The Sports Xchange

MLB Team Report - Chicago White Sox - INSIDE PITCH

CHICAGO -- The bullpen has been a big problem for the Chicago White Sox this season.

There hasn't been a true closer all season, injuries have caused more new faces than usual on the mound and there have been several ugly stretches of ineptitude that have cost the White Sox games.

They're currently in one of those stretches.

Prior to Chicago's 5-1 loss Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, the White Sox bullpen had a 9.70 ERA in the month of August. It ballooned their season ERA from 3.81 to 4.49 and cost them a number of games, several in embarrassing fashion.

Right-handers Daniel Webb and Jake Petricka combined to allow only one run in three innings of relief Tuesday, but that hasn't been a common outcome of late.

"You can sit there and overanalyze it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "(It's) being too much in the middle of the plate more than anything. You continue to work at it and hopefully they can work themselves through a period of being more successful at doing that."

The White Sox (59-67) are fourth in the American League Central, pretty much out of the chase for the postseason and can only wonder where they might sit with a better bullpen. They've lost 12 games this season after holding a lead of at least two runs in the sixth inning or later. Three times they've blown leads of at least four runs in the eighth inning or later.

"Bullpen stuff, if it goes well, nobody says anything," Ventura said. "When it doesn't go well, that becomes a focal point. They're frustrated like everybody else. You have to continue to work at it and fight through it."

They also have to pound the inside portion of the strike zone more. If they don't, odds are there will be more painful outings to come.

"If you have good hitters, you have to pitch inside and establish that and your offspeed stuff," Ventura said. "Again, being in the middle of the plate more often, you're going to get hit like that. (Monday) night we definitely missed some spots. That's part of it, but to get people out, you have to establish your fastball inside."

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MLB Team Report - Chicago White Sox - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 59-67

STREAK: Lost two

NEXT: Orioles (LHP Wei-Yin Chen, 12-4, 3.76 ERA) at White Sox (RHP Hector Noesi, 7-8, 4.84 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--RHP Hector Noesi has won two straight starts and will try to even his record for the season when he starts Wednesday night for the White Sox in a series finale against the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field. Jimenez has a 2.79 ERA and opponents are hitting just .236 off him in his past three outings (two quality starts). Noesi, who has lowered his season ERA from 14.21 to 4.84 since joining the White Sox in April, is 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in eight career appearances (three starts) against the Orioles. As a starter, he's 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA against Baltimore.