One by one, the members of the beleaguered White Sox bullpen paraded to the mound in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's Sox-Mariners game.
And one by one, they paraded back into the dugout, victimized by a collective inability to throw the ball across the plate.
The Sox used five relievers in the fateful seventh, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in a 7-4 loss to Seattle.
It was the second straight night the bullpen fell apart late in the game, only this time the Sox paid for it with their first loss of 2002.
Lorenzo Barcelo, Damaso Marte, Bob Howry and Mike Porzio combined to turn a 4-3 lead into a 7-4 deficit. Jon Rauch finally got the final out of the inning and pitched a perfect eighth. In one mind-numbing five-batter span, Marte, Howry and Porzio went to 3-0 counts on four of the Mariners' hitters. Marte and Porzio both walked in runs with the bases loaded.
Manager Jerry Manuel can't get a whole new bullpen after two games.
"We have to make sure we have some other places to go right now," Manuel said. "I think that's kind of where the industry might be lacking as a whole--that middle guy. You may have one or two, but you might need more than that at this stage of the season. Everybody could possibly be in the same boat. We'll just kind of have to wait and see."
On Tuesday he saw the bullpen implosion spoil a fine effort by Todd Ritchie, who left with the lead after six innings in his Sox debut.
The Sox trailed 3-1 in the sixth when Kenny Lofton reached third on a bunt that pitcher Jamie Moyer threw into right field for a three-base error. Ray Durham's RBI groundout cut the deficit to one before the Sox rallied again in the seventh.
After loading the bases with three straight singles off reliever Jeff Nelson, Sandy Alomar Jr. fanned and Royce Clayton popped out. Seattle manager Lou Piniella brought in left-hander Arthur Rhodes to face Lofton, who singled up the middle to bring home the tying and go-ahead runs.
Ritchie was removed after 100 pitches, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven. Manuel said he won't let his starters go past the 100-pitch range.
"Not at this time of the year," he said. "It'd be too dangerous."
Instead, he turned to his bullpen, which turned in one of the most unwatchable innings imaginable.
Barcelo started things off by allowing a pair of one-out singles. Left-hander Marte gave up an infield single to Ichiro Suzuki and then walked Mark McLemore to force in the tying run, prompting his exit.
Howry was called upon to face Bret Boone, who singled to center on the second pitch to give the Mariners a 5-4 lead. Howry fell behind Edgar Martinez 3-0 before giving up a sacrifice fly on a 3-1 pitch. Enter Porzio, who threw seven straight balls in his Sox debut and walked the only two men he faced, forcing in another run to make it 7-4.
"I tried to make some good pitches," Porzio said. "I'd like to see the tape on some of them. I thought I made one or two that could've been strikes. But you have to come in and throw strikes. It's unacceptable. I didn't do the job."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun