Through his first five starts, Jon Garland hardly resembled the pitcher we had come to know over the past four years. Saturday, we were visited by our old familiar friend. Garland gave up 6 earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched; he had given up the same number in his first 39 innings.
There was no way he could sustain the run that he was on. His peripherals just weren't there. He was relying too much on his defense (only 3.83K/9). His BABIP said that he had been "lucky." Vince, over at Exile in Wrigleyville, had a nice piece on just this compared his start to John Snyder and Esteban Loaiza's recent fast starts in a White Sox uniform.
While Garland looked much like the 2002-04 version in Saturday's game, there were some encouraging signs. He didn't have great control, yet yielded only one walk, in the first, that came around to score. He fell behind a lot, but he never gave in and continued to challenge hitters. His main problem was just his control, he was falling behind hitters, then leaving balls up in the zone in hitters counts. Those aren't the type of balls that turn into the weak grounders that he's been so used to inducing this season. (I just looked it up. Garland threw 70 strikes in 107 pitches. That's deceiving, because he fell behind early in the count, but battled by throwing strikes late in the count.)
Thankfully, I only was able to watch the first 5 innings, so I didn't get to see some guy named Russ Adams take Garland deep.
I'm still thrilled with Garland's start. As long as he continues to challenge hitter and trust his defense, he's going to be fine. The low walk rate will be the key.
This is where I'm supposed to write about Paul Konerko breaking out of his slump with 2 HRs. Well, it's not happening. He still struck out 3 times and looked ugly doing it. Until he can demonstrate that he can put the ball in play consistently for a hit, I'm not buying it. He's looked like Joe Borchard for the better part of two weeks now. On a positive note, his BABIP is only .171. That's certainly going to improve.
The Sox scored 10 runs in the first 4 innings Saturday. It was the most they have scored in a game this season. They had two 4-run innings, which matches their best output in a single inning this season.