Robertson, Duke anchoring reliable White Sox bullpen
Relievers getting it done early for Chicago
CHICAGO -- As Zach Duke walked to his locker to speak with the media following Chicago's 6-2 victory over the Twins on Sunday afternoon, he was asked by one reporter how his work day went.
The veteran southpaw smiled and uttered the word, "Stressful."
Stressful, but effective.
Duke had to pitch around a wind-induced fly ball to centerfielder Adam Eaton that resulted in a single and an ill-advised throw home by first baseman Jose Abreu on Torii Hunter's slow roller that should have been the second out of the eighth. With a 3-2 lead and two runners on, Duke got a Trevor Plouffe pop out to shortstop Alexei Ramirez and an Eduardo Escobar grounder to Micah Johnson to end the threat.
A similar sort of scenario might have resulted in a big inning against the White Sox last season. It wasn't that they had bad relief arms, as much as they had people out of position due to injuries to Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom. With Duke and closer David Robertson in the back, all of the White Sox late innings appear to be aligned.
"We kept the lead and that's the main thing," said Duke, who threw 31 pitches in the eighth. "My job is to make sure we are still winning whenever I come out."
Robertson finished Sunday's second straight win at U.S. Cellular Field and struck out four of the six hitters he faced this weekend. Yes, the relief crew was going against a young Twins squad that doesn't look like a 2015 contender, but nonetheless, manager Robin Ventura clearly has options to get from quality starts to victories.
"Our main job is to make it tough for Robin to choose when to throw guys," said Dan Jennings, who started a double play on Oswaldo Arcia's grounder back to the mound to end the seventh, punctuated by a roundhouse fist pump. "Have him be able to throw whoever, in whatever situation. I think we have the guys to do that."