Miscue leads to long night for White Sox
Contreras falls after error opens door to six Boston runs
BOSTON -- On Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, when what would have been Jose Contreras' turn on the mound next comes up, the White Sox will have a rotation opening to fill.
That much is certain, as Ozzie Guillen officially dropped Contreras to the bullpen following Monday's 12-8 loss to the Red Sox before 37,812 at Fenway Park. It was a game standing far from a perfect start to the South Siders' 11-game road trip. With the setback, the White Sox (63-62) now find themselves closer to third-place Minnesota (62-63) than first-place Detroit in the American League Central.
But the question at hand centers on who will replace Contreras in that all-important contest, with CC Sabathia scheduled to be on the mound for the Yankees. Jake Peavy seems to be the logical solution, especially after he hurled five scoreless innings for Triple-A Charlotte on Monday in his third Minor League rehab start to test a strained tendon in his right ankle.
Neither Guillen nor pitching coach Don Cooper, however, would confirm such a move after this tough setback in Chicago's first meeting of the season with Boston (71-53).
"Obviously, we've taken Jose out," Cooper said. "Our options are Peavy, [Daniel] Hudson, [Carlos] Torres, and they're all lined up for it. Who gets the nod? It's going to be up to [general manager] Kenny [Williams]. Whoever it is, it's fine with me."
"I don't make that decision," Guillen said. "I just say I need another pitcher. That's Kenny's decision. Jose will have rest tomorrow and then go into the bullpen. After that, it's up to Kenny and Peavy."
Contreras' unfortunate rotation swan song looked anything but through the first two innings. Gordon Beckham's eighth home run, a two-run shot off Boston starter Clay Buchholz, actually gave the visitors a 4-1 advantage moving into the bottom half of the third.
To make matters worse, Contreras (5-12) seemed to be cruising through a relatively easy inning, with Alex Gonzalez on base and two outs. At that point, Contreras walked Victor Martinez and hit Kevin Youkilis with an 0-2 pitch to load the bases. Those two maneuvers simply set up the crushing blow, or crushing miscue, in a more apropos description.
David Ortiz was given the green light to swing at a 3-0 pitch from Contreras and topped a grounder toward first baseman Paul Konerko. But Contreras cut in front of Konerko and bobbled the grounder, allowing Ortiz to reach base and the Red Sox to score their first of six unearned runs in the frame.
It was a case of Contreras trying to do too much, too fast.
"As soon as the ball was hit, I saw the ball was going down the line," said Contreras of the Ortiz play, through interpreter Ozzie Guillen Jr. "In the situation the game was in, I didn't want it to go foul. So maybe I rushed myself to get to the ball. That's when the mistake was made. Maybe I went a little too quick to get it."
"That's frustrating, because I felt like we had a good grasp on the game and we just kind of let it slip away," Beckham said.
Jason Bay walked with the bases loaded to force in another run, and a Contreras wild pitch tied the game to keep the third-inning avalanche falling. Mike Lowell followed with a three-run blast, launched well over the Green Monster in left, ending Contreras' night. The big right-hander threw only 46 of his 84 pitches for strikes over 2 2/3 innings and slipped to 1-5 with a 6.16 ERA in his past eight starts and 2-5 with a 9.75 ERA lifetime at Fenway.
Guillen's decision to move Contreras clearly had little to do with the poor Fenway career numbers.
"Another tough outing for him," said Guillen. "I feel for him, but our job is to win games and not to do people favors. We cannot handle this anymore."
"At this point, as a starter, I'm not helping the team win," Contreras said. "If the next move is to go to the bullpen and help them, I'm ready to do that, and hopefully it will turn out better."
Boston's lead grew to 9-4, but the White Sox fought back via Konerko's three-run home run in the fifth off Buchholz. The White Sox loaded the bases in the seventh, trailing by just two, but Carlos Quentin flied out to right fielder J.D. Drew on a 2-2 pitch from reliever Daniel Bard.
Ramon Ramirez (7-3) joined Hideki Okajima, Bard and closer Jonathan Papelbon in holding the White Sox to one run over the final 4 1/3 innings.
Peavy did take a line drive off his pitching elbow in Monday's start, and while he pronounced himself fit after the effort, how his elbow responds could dictate whether he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium. Even if Peavy feels ready to give the White Sox five or six innings on Saturday, the team would make the call for their new acquisition.
Of course, with the White Sox currently holding a 1-3 record during a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, they clearly have some business to take care of before Peavy potentially arrives.
"We're playing teams right now that wins are every bit as important to them as they are to us," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "So you're going to get everything that every other team has."
"When you make those mistakes against that type of ballclub, you are going to get hurt," Guillen said. "We don't lose that game. We gave it away. With all my respect, those guys started to hit the ball after that [third] inning."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.