Late rally negates Rios' big day in loss
Center fielder falls triple short of cycle, but Sox drop series
CHICAGO -- Bobby Jenks stood in front of his locker, still in his uniform, 20 minutes after Toronto's 9-7, come-from-behind victory at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday. He calmly addressed the moments that transpired while he was on the mound.
Simply put, Jenks faced four batters in the ninth, trying to protect a two-run lead. All four Blue Jays reached base, and all four scored, with Fred Lewis' three-run blast to right serving as the game-deciding shot.
"When I did get ahead, I just couldn't put them away," said Jenks, who slipped to 1-1 and watched his ERA rise to 6.75. "I just left the balls over the middle too many times.
"[The Jays] battled back. To let one like this get away, it's a little more painful than any other days."
It was painful because the White Sox (13-19) erased a 5-4 deficit by scoring two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth, only to lose after holding a lead for the 10th time during the 2010 campaign. It was painful because Minnesota's victory over Baltimore dropped the White Sox eight games behind the American League Central leaders as they head to Minnesota's Target Field for a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
And it was painful because Jenks might temporarily lose his job as White Sox closer, despite converting all five of his save opportunities prior to Sunday's debacle. This change will be discussed by manager Ozzie Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper leading into Tuesday's opener of the White Sox seven-game road trip, but Guillen wouldn't commit to any sort of firm replacement.
"Whoever is [finishing games], that's the one I think [is the closer]," said Guillen. "I never say I'm going to do this and, all of a sudden, I don't do it. That's not the way I do stuff. You might see Bobby back. Maybe [over the] next couple of days, I might use someone different, just to see if Bobby can regroup and come back to his form. Obviously, he's not throwing the ball well."
"It has to be location. It's always location," said Cooper of Jenks' struggles. "Do you or don't you make the pitches? He didn't make them today. The other night, he didn't make them. The last two times, he has had a tough time."
Gavin Floyd also struggled Sunday, giving up a four-spot to the Blue Jays (19-14) in the third inning and allowing five runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. Floyd settled down after the third and held the Blue Jays hitless until exiting after issuing a one-out walk in the seventh.
Meanwhile, the White Sox offense, sporting pink bats in honor of Mother's Day and the "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative by Major League Baseball, hacked away at Toronto's Ricky Romero. When the White Sox last faced Romero, on April 13 in Toronto, he held them hitless into the eighth.
On Sunday afternoon, Romero yielded four runs on eight hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings. But the White Sox weren't able to tie the game until one out in the seventh, when Alex Rios crushed a 3-1 pitch from Shawn Camp for his sixth home run.
Rios had four hits, three runs scored, and reached base five times against his old team, extending his hitting streak to 11 games and raising his career average against Toronto to .353.
"I've been putting good swings on the ball," said Rios, who for the season is hitting .324 with 17 RBIs. "When you do that, good things happen."
Carlos Quentin, swinging a pink bat like Rios and Juan Pierre (two RBIs), doubled home an insurance run off of Jason Frasor (2-1) in the eighth, setting the stage for Jenks.
Travis Snider greeted the burly reliever with a double to left-center, followed by John Buck's bloop single to right on a 1-2 hanging curve.
Lewis worked the count to 3-1 before unloading on a 94-mph fastball from Jenks for Lewis' second home run of the season.
"These guys, they won a World Series," said Lewis of coming through against the White Sox. "I've never experienced a World Series, and I just want to do my best against guys that have been there. It was just one of those things. I just got a burst of energy, and I took a good hack at it."
"Every loss stinks," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. "You don't want to lose games, but we're battling and just need a break, something to go our way. It's amazing: We fight, we claw, we do everything we possibly can to battle. We were facing a guy, Romero, who one-hit us last time, and we get a bunch of runs off him. We come back; they go ahead; we come back again, take the lead, and it just didn't work out in the ninth."
On Friday, Jenks gave up a solo home run to Buck, breaking a ninth-inning tie, but Jenks pitched out of a bases-loaded jam to give Pierzynski a chance to tie the game again with a home run off of Kevin Gregg. There was no such luck for the White Sox on Sunday against Gregg (ninth save).
Velocity is not an issue for Jenks, who has been consistently throwing in the 96-mph range. He might get a few days to figure out the real problem, with Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz, or even Sergio Santos, moving into the closer's role, although Jenks doesn't see the need for a change.
"No, that doesn't even make sense," Jenks said. "Physically, I feel great. My fastball is back to what it used to be, and the stuff is there, but it just was off the mark today."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.