GLENDALE, Ariz. — New White Sox closer David Robertson, who couldn’t finish his inning last time out, walked two – losing a 10-pitch fight with MVP Mike Trout – but the right-hander threw better better pitches in his third outing and escaped without allowing a run in a 5-3 Cactus League win over the Los Angeles Angels Sunday.
Gordon Beckham bailed Robertson out by ranging to his left on an Albert Pujols ground ball to start an inning-ending double play.
Robertson, signed for $46 million during the offseason to patch up the Sox bullpen problems, had given up three hits, a walk and a hit batsman against the Giants Thursday. After, he promised manager Robin Ventura his next outing would be better.
“When Robin came out there to get me last time,” Robertson said Sunday, “he was like ‘Hey I’m gonna get you outta here.’ And I said, ‘Well, you need to because I stink right now. Put somebody in here who throws strikes.’ This time I was afraid it was gonna happen to me again. Thank goodness for that double play ball.’’
Robertson, who has a 6.75 ERA, said he felt much better Sunday. A proven closer, his mood was light, as you’d expect in the middle of March.“The results weren’t great but I felt really good,” he said. “Threw a lot of good pitches. Threw a few bad ones, but that’s part of pitching.”Veteran lefthander John Danks gave up three runs on six hits including an opposite field homer to David Freese over 3 2/3 innings. Danks threw 61 pitches and not many good off-speed ones among them, he said, struggling with his changeup and leaving his fastball up.“Frustrating,” he said.Danks has allowed 28 and 25 homers over the last two seasons. On Sunday he couldn’t locate his off-speed pitches and his fastball was often up in the zone.“But as the game went on, it got better,” he said. “I feel good about that, but certainly there’s a lot of work to be done. The changeup is a pitch I’m still working with. In talking to [pitching coach Don Coooper], he shows just as much confidence in it as I do that it will be there when I need it. It’s a feel pitch, just keep throwing it and it’ll come around.”
Zach Putnam, who posted a 1.96 ERA last season but has struggled thus far this spring, struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning. Daniel Webb, another reliever who had struggled before Sunday, struck out the side in his inning of work.
Conor Gillaspie had two hits and Melky Cabrera had a single and a sacrifice fly for the Sox. Adam Eaton (1-for-4) threw out Josh Rutledge trying to advance from first to third. Eaton was also picked off first by former Sox lefty Hector Santiago.
NOTE: Jesse Crain was pleased once again with his latest live batting practice session. The right-hander who posted 29 consecutive scoreless appearances the last time he was seen during the first half of the 2013 season was overjoyed after throwing Sunday, calling it his best throwing session of the spring. “I hit spots a little better today. My breaking pitches were a little more under control.’’ Crain likely won’t make the Opening Day roster but he’s a wild card in the bullpen mix as the season goes along.
*On deck: At Diamondbacks, Sunday 3:10 CST, Carlos Rodon vs. Robbie Ray.