White Sox not lacking quality starts

White Sox not lacking quality starts

CHICAGO -- If quality starts were the only indicator of a successful baseball season, then the White Sox would be breezing through the regular season on their way to a second World Series in six years.

With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, Chicago's starting pitchers lead the American League in quality starts, having amassed 80 of them in 152 games. Boston is second with 77, Minnesota third at 76 and Seattle fourth with 75.

A starting pitcher is credited with a quality start if he tosses at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs.

Of course, that statistic is only part of the equation in constructing a playoff-hopeful and championship-caliber team -- which is why the White Sox find themselves in third place in the American League Central.

"You talk about quality starts, it's a shame the White Sox are in the position we are when we lead the American League, maybe Major League Baseball, in quality starts," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think everybody in the starting rotation gives us quality starts. We just haven't gotten it done. I think the pitching staff we have, they're good enough to give us quality starts. They've been doing that, but it's a shame with the quality starts they have, they don't have [as many wins as they should]."

On Wednesday night, White Sox ace Mark Buehrle will look to boost the team's number of quality starts to 81 when he takes the mound against lefty Brian Duensing in the series finale against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.

Buehrle is third on the team with 18 quality starts, one behind both Gavin Floyd and John Danks. Other starters who have contributed to the overall number have been Jose Contreras (seven), Freddy Garcia (six), Clayton Richard (five), Bartolo Colon (four) and Carlos Torres (two).

"It's a good thing for the staff to be proud of, and it's a good thing for the pitchers to be proud of," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "At the same time, we should've gotten some more wins this year."

Part of the reason for some of the team's quality starts going for naught stems from both the South Siders' under-performing offense and sometimes faulty bullpen.

Entering Tuesday night's game, Chicago was hitting just .259, tied for the third-lowest in the AL. The White Sox also had been shut out a league-leading 13 times this season. And the bullpen has contributed as well, blowing 18 saves.

"If you're leading the league in quality starts, you've got to be scoring at least four runs in order to win those games," White Sox reliever D.J. Carrasco said. "It's a combination of us having a good quality start and our team scoring four or five runs and the bullpen holding that quality start. Because you can still have a quality start and the bullpen blows it."

Despite having the highest number of quality starts in the league and a solid 4.22 ERA, White Sox starters are just 51-56 this season.

"We said coming in that we thought we'd have a pretty good staff," Pierzynski said. "Sometimes things don't work out the way you expect. We thought we'd hit a little bit more and we didn't, and we thought we'd score a few more runs and we've kind of struggled a little bit here and there in that department. Baseball's funny like that.

Right now, however, with Chicago languishing in third place in the AL Central, eight games behind first-place Detroit with 10 games remaining, the White Sox aren't laughing.

Pitching matchup
CWS: LHP Mark Buehrle (12-9, 3.84 ERA)
By throwing six-plus innings during Friday's loss to the Royals, Buehrle became the only active hurler to win at least 10 games, make 30 starts and work 200 innings in nine consecutive seasons. Buehrle also slipped to 1-6 over 11 starts since his perfect game against the Rays on July 23, having allowed 89 hits and 38 earned runs over 69 2/3 innings during this stretch. Buehrle is 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA against the Twins this season and has an 8-5 record at U.S. Cellular Field. He has a lifetime mark of 23-15 against Minnesota.

MIN: LHP Brian Duensing (4-1, 3.22 ERA)
Duensing has looked impressive since moving into the Twins' rotation, but Friday against Detroit might have been his best start yet. Duensing held the Tigers scoreless over 6 1/3 innings, his second straight start without surrendering a run. He allowed just four hits, only one of which went for extra bases. As a starter, Duensing is 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA. He has made two starts against the White Sox, the last coming on Sept. 2, when he pitched seven scoreless innings but didn't factor in the decision.

Tidbits
The White Sox have lost three straight home games for the first time since losing four from June 2-5. Chicago now is 1-8 in its past nine games against Minnesota. ... On Tuesday, Gordon Beckham notched his first multi-RBI game since Sept. 1, also against the Twins. He is hitting .429 (18-for-42) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 11 games vs. Minnesota this season. ... Paul Konerko hit the third longest home run at U.S. Cellular Field this season, a 441-foot shot in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game. Konerko, who finished 3-for-4, has produced a multi-hit effort in five of his past nine games. ... Guillen said that Wednesday's start for Buehrle would not be his last of the season. There had been speculation that if the White Sox were eliminated from playoff contention, Buehrle would not pitch beyond his start against the Twins. "Everybody has to be ready," Guillen said. "The way we've got it right now, Buehrle is starting the last game in Detroit. If that game means something to Detroit, or Minnesota or us, he's going to be out there. I've got to go out with the best."

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Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Tigers (Nate Robertson, 2-2, 5.13) at White Sox (Jake Peavy, 7-6, 4.05), 7:11 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Tigers (Eddie Bonine, 0-0, 5.96) at White Sox (Freddy Garcia, 2-3, 4.01), 6:05 p.m. CT

Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.