It's hard to imagine that D-backs right-hander Brandon McCarthy could have pitched any better through the first three innings.
And for his sake, one hopes that it would be impossible for him to have worse results than he did in the fourth.
The White Sox offense came to life with a seven-run fourth inning en route to a 9-3 win over the D-backs at U.S. Cellular Field.
"I have no idea," McCarthy said when asked about what happened in the fourth. "Even after four or five innings to sit down here and think about it, I really don't know. I don't know if they changed their approach and got super aggressive; I was throwing a lot of strikes. They just started jumping on everything.
"Even looking back on it, they're not terrible pitches. They're not anything different than what I was doing in the first three innings. The same approach, it's just, I don't know. I don't know how you can get nine hits out of 10 hitters when I felt like I was doing the things I needed to do."
McCarthy (1-6) was unhittable through the first three innings, retiring all nine White Sox hitters he faced.
Meanwhile, a two-run homer by Gerardo Parra in the third gave McCarthy a lead to work with.
"He was cruising, man, he was really good," catcher Miguel Montero said. "I was like, 'Wow this guy is throwing a heck of a game right now.' Because he was making pitch after pitch and then it just happened, the wheels came off and they got contagious that inning hitting. And they were pretty much unstoppable to be honest."
And it happened quickly.
Alejandro De Aza started it off with a double and then Gordon Beckham, Conor Gillaspie and Jose Abreu followed with singles and the game was tied at 2.
It would get much worse for McCarthy and the D-backs.
There was a ray of hope when Adam Dunn struck out, but Dayan Viciedo singled to load the bases and Alexei Ramirez then unloaded them with a grand slam to left on a 3-0 pitch that put the White Sox up 6-2.
"I was looking for a good pitch that I can connect," Ramirez said through interpreter Lino Diaz. "Something that was over the plate. And that's what I did and I was able to hit it."
And it still wasn't over.
Three straight singles followed, the final one by De Aza that brought home the seventh run of the inning and ended McCarthy's night.
"He was nine up, nine down and then nine out of the next 10 guys got hits," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "It unraveled quick and it was an unusual game. I don't know what to say.
That was enough runs for Andre Rienzo (3-0). The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings.
After talking with reporters, McCarthy sat alone staring off into the distance at a table in the clubhouse still searching for answers.
"It felt like [the ball] was coming out well," he said. "Mentally, physically, everything felt the exact same as the first three innings. It's just all of a sudden, every pitch I threw I was turning and watching it go somewhere else.
"I am baffled at this point. There's outings where you know you stink. You're falling behind guys, you're making pitches right down the middle of the plate, where you deserve to be punished. Then there's outings like this where I came in here and I was furious about what happened but you don't know why you're mad yet. You're looking at everything you can. I really just, I'm still baffled."
Montero was asked if perhaps McCarthy was tipping his pitches given how the White Sox hitters seemed to be on every pitch in that inning.
"I don't know, but it could be because they were looking really comfortable in there," Montero said. "It's something that I have to look at and try to figure out what it was because it was just weird. Really weird."