Sox go quietly in LA
Subpar Floyd, defense and offense add up to shutout loss
LOS ANGELES -- From almost the outset of the Dodgers' 5-0 whitewash of the White Sox on Wednesday night, it looked as if it was going to be a less-than-perfect evening on the West Coast for Ozzie Guillen's crew.
It all really went downhill from there for the White Sox (42-35). Their 10th loss in 11 games on the road, coupled with Minnesota's eighth straight victory, dropped the White Sox lead to one-half game in the American League Central and to just five over the hard-charging Tigers.
By Pierzynski's estimation, though, the team's smallest division advantage since May 17 does not stand out as its biggest concern.
"We have to worry about ourselves," said Pierzynski, who had one of the four White Sox hits on Wednesday.
Pierzynski and company had plenty of worries provided by southpaw Eric Stults (2-0), after putting runners on the corners with two outs in the opening frame. Over the next eight innings, Alexei Ramirez had two singles, Carlos Quentin drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and nobody else reached base.
Stults lowered his ERA to 0.60 with Wednesday's complete-game effort, adding three strikeouts to the White Sox miniscule output. There's no doubt he turned in a strong performance, but then again, it's nothing out of the ordinary when the White Sox face a lesser-known pitcher.
Prior to the Dodgers' second shutout of the season, the actor Eric Stoltz had greater recognition in this city with the same basic name, through his work in movies such as Mask, Pulp Fiction and Some Kind of Wonderful. So, why do relative unknowns seem to cut their teeth against such a power-packed lineup? The White Sox were left at a loss for words.
"Yeah, I have no idea. I have no idea," Pierzynski said. "I really don't know. We watch video and do the same stuff we do off other guys. That guy pitched pretty good. He used all his pitches, kept the ball down. We had that one chance in the first, and other than that, there weren't too many mistakes."
"I don't know if it's the scouting report or we just don't know the guy," Guillen added. "But every time we face someone we don't know, we always have trouble. It's hard to figure out."
While Stults was carving up the White Sox, Floyd (8-4) tried to keep his listless offense in the game. All hopes of that particular competition seemed to evaporate in the fourth, when Blake DeWitt doubled home two runs and Stults hit a sacrifice fly to complete a three-run rally and give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.
Only four of the runs Floyd allowed were earned, with those runs coming on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander has been better than anyone outside the organization ever expected this season, but he has had some trouble pitching around defensive mistakes. Floyd's 13 unearned runs yielded this season lead the Majors.
"Gavin was all over the place, and obviously it was not his best outing," Pierzynski said. "He tried to battle through, and it's tough when you are down 1-0 two hitters in. But when you don't score any runs, you aren't going to win a lot of games."
Thursday afternoon's series-deciding contest features John Danks on the mound for the White Sox and rookie Clayton Kershaw pitching for the Dodgers. Kershaw is another Los Angeles left-hander, making his seventh Major League start, which is two fewer than Stults' total of nine.
Of course, the 20-year-old Dodgers prodigy is a little higher up the prospects' chart than Stults. Nonetheless, winning a series on the road, against another unknown hurler, would be an important step for the White Sox in righting the ship, before returning home for their second showing of the Crosstown Showdown with the Cubs.
"This has been a weird year," Pierzynski said. "We started off good on the road and now we can't do anything on the road, but we are good at home. We have to find a way to put it all together."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.