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Jenks' job now in jeopardy as Jays rally for 9-7 win
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Staff

Alexei Ramirez breaks his bat while grounding into a double play against the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

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Published: 5/9/2010 4:54 PM | Updated: 5/9/2010 9:03 PM

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Scot Gregor's game tracker

Closing time: Bobby Jenks is in serious danger of losing his closer's job after failing to retire any of the four Toronto hitters he faced in the ninth inning while blowing a 7-5 lead.

Remember me? Alex Rios was 4-for-4 with a walk. In eight games this season against the Jays, his former team, Rios is batting .353 (12-for-34) with 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 5 RBI.

More bad stuff: Gordon Beckham had another lousy game, going 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts. His average dropped to .193. ... The Sox were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Faster than Bobby Jenks' 3-1 pitch to Toronto's Fred Lewis left the bat and disappeared over the right-field fence at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday, the White Sox found themselves with a full-blown closer controversy.

A hulking, beloved figure on the South Side since he was called up from Class AA Birmingham in 2005, Jenks helped the Sox win the World Series that season and was an all-star the next two years.

In 2008, Jenks became the second-fastest relief pitcher in history to reach 100 saves before it all started to fall apart.

Last year, the 29-year-old reliever blew a career-high 6 saves (in 35 opportunities) and also led all American League closers with 9 home runs allowed.

Jenks' struggles spilled over into 2010, and after failing to protect a 7-5 lead over the Blue Jays, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is seriously thinking abut making a change.

"I think we have a lot of options and we are going to search for ones," Guillen said after the Sox fell to the Jays 9-7. "Maybe the next couple of days I might use someone different just to see if Bobby can regroup and come back to his form. Obviously, he's not throwing the ball well. It's a good thing we have options out there and we'll see what happens."

When asked about being removed as closer, Jenks didn't think the question was appropriate.

"No, that doesn't even make sense," he said.

A closer look at his numbers tells a different story.

While the velocity on his fastball is a steady 96 mph, a few ticks higher than last season, Jenks has allowed 10 runs (9 earned) on 19 hits and 7 walks in 12 innings. That translates to a 6.75 ERA and his WHIP is an equally grim 2.17.

Jenks blew his first save in 6 tries Sunday, but he's retired the side in order just one time this season.

"Physically, I feel great," said Jenks, who has battled a right calf injury the past two seasons. "My fastball is back to what it used to be and the stuff is there. It just was off the mark today."

Jenks has been off the mark all year, and he really paid the price against the Jays.

"Yeah, it has to be location," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "It's always location. Do you or don't you make the pitches? He didn't make them today. The other night (Friday) he didn't make them. The last two times he's had a tough time. There's nothing more demoralizing than when you have a win on the line and you don't get it done in the last inning. Obviously, it's a very tough loss."

If Guillen does make a change in the ninth inning, left-hander Matt Thornton (23 strikeouts in 142/3 innings) and rookie right-hander Sergio Santos (1 earned run in 122/3 innings) are the top two options.

"Whoever is out there, that's the one I think," Guillen said. "I never say I'm going to do this and all of a sudden I don't do it. That's not the way I do stuff. You might see Bobby back. I've got options back out there until he comes back and throws the ball the way we think he can.

"Right now we are going to sit down and see what the options are, and the game is going to dictate who I use and we'll go from there."