When Jose Contreras is on, it's difficult to find a better starting pitcher in either league.
When Contreras is off, well, let's just go to the White Sox' 10-2 loss to the Orioles on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
"It was just one of those days," Contreras said through an interpreter after pitching 41/3 innings and allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits and 4 walks. "My slider was out of the zone, I had no feel for my forkball and obviously, I couldn't locate the fastball. Just move on."
Looking rusty in his first outing after the all-star break, Contreras (4-8) also hit 2 batters and threw 2 wild pitches.
Catcher Ramon Castro wasn't much better, committing 2 throwing errors trying to cut down Baltimore base stealers. One of them, Brian Roberts, scored an unearned run in the first inning on the miscue.
"Everything was wrong today," manager Ozzie Guillen said after the Sox failed to sweep the three-game series. "You just name it - bouncing balls, wild pitches, heavy counts, we didn't have many hits. But we won the series. We have to see how we bounce back tomorrow against a good ballclub (Tampa Bay)."
Guillen is also looking forward to seeing how Contreras responds in his next start, at Detroit on Friday,
On Sunday, the Orioles scored all of their runs off the 37-year-old pitcher on walks or wild pitches.
"He was struggling all day long," Guillen said. "It surprises me he was out of the first four innings with (1 run). They should have scored more. They were one hit away from going up big."
Baltimore finally broke the game open with a 5-run fifth.
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out and Contreras' wild pitch brought Adam Jones home. After he hit Melvin Mora to load the bases again, Contreras was gone.
"Maybe because of the all-star break, he wasn't physically or mentally ready," Guillen said.
And maybe Aaron Poreda was suffering from similar symptoms.
Replacing Contreras, Poreda walked Luke Scott to force in a run and walked Nolan Reimold to force in another.
It was the rookie left-hander's first relief appearance since July 12, and he also looked rusty.
"It's not easy when you sit there for (a week) and you come in and pitch with the bases loaded," Guillen said. "I can't say he had a bad day. I don't want to blame the kid for that one."
The White Sox' offense wasn't much better, managing just 4 hits against Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie (7-8) and reliever Jim Johnson.
Dewayne Wise hit a solo home run in the third inning, and Chris Getz added another solo shot in the eighth, and that was it for the offense.
"He was pretty pinpoint with his fastball inside and out," Getz said of Guthrie. "He kept us off balance and pitched very, very well. You have to give credit where credit is due."