Big bats don't overcome Floyd's woes
White Sox put up 12 hits but can't climb out of early hole
CLEVELAND -- At the start of each new series, Ozzie Guillen and his staff hold a scouting meeting with his team to go over the upcoming opponent.
Monday's meeting at Progressive Field had a little bonus message delivered by the White Sox manager.
"I talk to them about what I feel about this ballclub," said Guillen, following his team's 9-4 loss to the Indians, which marked the White Sox seventh loss in nine games and the start of a seven-game road trip. "I didn't like the way they were playing at home.
"They had no energy. I think today they played better. They went out and played with energy."
Energy was present from the White Sox offense in the form of 12 hits, including three from Paul Konerko, who passed Minnie Minoso for eighth all-time in White Sox history with 1,523 career hits. Jim Thome, A.J. Pierzynski and Josh Fields also knocked out two hits apiece.
But where the offense picked up, White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (2-3) once again let down. Floyd was hit hard for the fourth time in seven starts, giving up eight runs on 11 hits over five-plus innings.
To present an idea of the right-hander's struggles to date, Floyd allowed 10 hits or more in just one game during his impressive 17-win showing in 2008. He already has topped that dubious mark twice in 2009, slipping to 0-2 with a 9.74 ERA over his last four starts.
Being aggressive within the strike zone continues to be the issue for the rotation's No. 2 starter.
"It's a thing about getting ahead and attacking guys," said Floyd, who struck out three, walked three and threw 107 pitches over five innings and two batters into the sixth. "I think I'm trying to hit corners and trying to be perfect with everything, instead of going after people and make them put the ball in play.
"Get behind all the time, you put yourself in a bad situation. The past couple starts, it's a combination. So I'll be working on whatever I throw out there and getting ahead."
Guillen strongly seconded the notion from Floyd, who opened with a pitch outside of the strike zone against the first 11 batters he faced.
"Like I always say, in the big leagues, if you don't throw strikes, I don't care how good you are, you're going to get killed," said Guillen of Floyd. "Real bad command. He's not getting ahead in the count. In the game of baseball, if your starting pitcher throws well, you have a chance to be in the game. We're not doing that right now."
"You got to have that attitude where it's, 'Here it is, hit it.' It's a small mental thing," Floyd said. "I throw in the bullpen and I feel great. I feel like I'm going to translate that in the game, and all of a sudden, it's not going the same way, and I get behind."
Jose Contreras already was taken out of the starting rotation and optioned to Triple-A Charlotte following Sunday's loss to Texas, bringing with him an 0-5 record and 8.19 ERA. According to Guillen, Floyd is not on any sort of demotion watch if his struggles continue.
"We talked to him about it," Guillen said. "It's something that we're working on right now, and we expect better from him. The stuff is there, but command of strikes is the important thing."
Prior to Monday's contest, Guillen was asked to explain Cleveland's horrific 11-21 start to the 2009 campaign as he held court with the media during his daily session. He would not place the full onus of present disappointment on Eric Wedge's crew.
"Everybody struggles in the American League," said Guillen with a laugh. "We stink, and we are only three games out. Everyone in this division is not playing good right now."
Judging by the South Siders' performance during the Indians' victory, the White Sox (14-17) are a few steps below good at this point. And to update Guillen's pregame thoughts, the team now sits 3 1/2 games behind the idle Tigers and Royals in the AL Central. But Guillen is not worried about a repeat of the 72-90 debacle from 2007 starting to replay itself.
"No, our bullpen is better than 2007, way better," Guillen said. "We have better players. Right now, this is happening to us as a team, but we went through this before and overcame."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.