ANAHEIM, Calif. — Things are different around here, Mike Pelfrey found out quickly after joining the White Sox.
The veteran right-hander, a day after making his first start April 22 for the team that signed him five weeks ago, got a tap on the shoulder from pitching coach Don Cooper.
“He said, ‘Are you ready to go over the game?’ and I was like, ‘OK.’ I didn’t know what he meant,” Pelfrey said. “I’ve never done anything like that. But we went downstairs [at Guaranteed Rate Field], 65-inch TV, the game’s on. Boom, we go over every pitch. This was like hands-on to the point I’ve never seen it before, but I loved that.”
The trick for Cooper and Pelfrey is finding a way to get the big starter to stay strong through five or six innings, which once again failed to happen in the Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Angels Monday. Pelfrey was as good as he can be through four, holding the Angels scoreless but then – as usual — it all unraveled on him as it had in his first four starts.
“I thought I was 3-2 on everybody and a lot of pitches and killed the bullpen again, which sucks,” Pelfrey said. “You can’t get deep in the game when you’re 3-2 on everybody. Pitches rack up pretty fast. Pretty crappy all the way and disappointing. I really don’t know what to say.”
Manager Rick Renteria wasn’t at a loss for words, blaming himself for not getting Pelfrey out of there sooner.
“He gave us a chance to win that ballgame, or at least put us in the position to win that ballgame, and quite frankly I didn’t take advantage of it,” Renteria said.
Jose Abreu staked Pelfrey to a 2-0 lead with an opposite field homer in the fourth against Jesse Chavez and Tyler Saladino tripled in a run in the fifth to make it 3-0.
But pitching four scoreless innings aiming to surpass his season high of 5 1/3, Pelfrey once again struggled his third time through the order, walking Cameron Maybin and Danny Espinosa before Kole Calhoun launched a tying three-run homer in the fifth. Mike Trout then made it back-to-back jacks with his fourth homer in as many games, the first time in his career Trout has homered in four straight. Anthony Swarzak (0.00 ERA) was summoned to get the final out of the fifth, but the Angels led 4-3.
Renteria had Jennings, his left-hander in the bullpen, warmed and ready to face Calhoun, but he went with his heart, he said, giving Pelfrey a chance to get through the fifth and qualify for a win.
“All season long we’ve done the opposite, not worried about the individual, more worried about the team,” Renteria said. “Bottom line today is I went against the team concept and did something for the player. And it bit us in the butt.”
Cooper and Pelfrey, meanwhile, will try to figure out how to get Pelfrey to succeed his third time through a lineup.
“We’re proactive, and we’re going to try stuff,” Cooper said. “What I like about him is he’s into it. He’s ready, willing and able to do anything we ask him to do, just to see how it feels. He’s been very responsive to it.’’
Pelfrey, though, fell to 0-4 and saw his ERA climb to 5.70 ERA in five starts for the Sox. He hasn’t lasted more than 5⅓ innings.
“Every time you’re out there pitching, he’s there with you, too,’’ Pelfrey said. “If you’re [ticked] off about your start, he’s [ticked] off. If you’re like, ‘That was good,’ he’s like, ‘That was good.’ He rides that wave with you. Obviously there are ups and downs through a season, but his main focus isn’t ‘You sucked’ but how are we going to get better?”
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