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Basically, Floyd's got to be better
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/13/2010 12:02 AM | Updated: 8/13/2010 12:17 AM

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For my money, if this is going to work for the White Sox, they're going to need for the next seven weeks the Gavin Floyd who's been brilliant the last two months.

"Good thing it ain't your money, because we need them all the rest of the way," said White Sox GM Kenny Williams. "We don't ever rely on just one guy, because if you put it all on one guy and he gets hurt, it's tough for the rest of the group to overcome that mentally.

"So we never anoint anyone around here. Everyone has to contribute for it to work."

It started working for the team early in June and it just so happens that it's also the time Floyd went from horribly inconsistent to incredibly good, probably the best in the American League since June 8, going 6-2 in 12 starts over that span with a 1.19 ERA, 1 homer allowed and 68 strikeouts vs. 19 walks in 83 innings.

His only rough outing in that stretch was in a 7-4 defeat in Minnesota on July 16, and he struggled again Thursday night in the White Sox' 6-1 loss to the Twins, when he wasn't anywhere near the great Gavin he's been since he started dominating the league two months ago.

"I didn't feel great but I battled all night," said Floyd, who threw 125 pitches. "Tried to give my team a chance to win."

Floyd had done much more than that until Thursday, when he allowed 6 runs on 10 hits in 62/3 innings with 3 walks, 2 homers, a balk and a wild pitch.

As ugly as it was, it would have been enough to keep the Sox in it had they not left the bases loaded three times, and left 12 runners on for the game.

"We couldn't get a basehit when we needed it," said manager Ozzie Guillen. "We just didn't get it done."

Floyd is now 4-6 for his career against Minnesota with a 4.42 ERA in 11 starts, including 2 last year when the Twins hit him hard, and the infamous outing in Minnesota the final week of the 2008 season.

That's when the Sox staked Floyd to a 6-1 lead in the fourth inning of the final game of the series, a game the Sox needed to win in order to avoid a sweep and remain in first place.

But Floyd couldn't get through 6 innings and left having given up 4 runs on 11 hits, before the Sox lost 7-6 to drop out of first.

He's obviously got a problem getting through the Twins' lineup, which puts him in good company with a lot of A.L. pitchers, but it also makes you wonder about his appearance next week in Minnesota, and probably one more against the Twins in September.

"He sometimes forgets his changeup, which acts like a sinker down and in to left-handed hitters," Williams said. "He's got a great curve, but it's such a good pitch that hitters won't even try to hit it if all he's throwing is the fastball and curve.

"Then, it's really just fastball in the hitter's mind. Throw in that changeup and now the hitter's got real problems.

"You can see that he's been great with that for a long stretch here."

If only he would start each season that way.

"The last couple spring trainings, Gavin's come in with a few things from the winter that we have to get rid of and get him back to where he was," said pitching coach Don Cooper. "Pretty simple. More strikes early in the count, better location, and quality pitches early in the count.

"It's the secret to everyone's success. It's really just the basics."

Basics were a problem all the way around Thursday, and for the second time in this series, the Sox were ineffective on the mound and worse at the plate.

They've lost five of their last seven, which was almost to be expected after a remarkable 38-13 run, but with the loss the Twins regained sole possession of first place.

"Get used to it going back and forth," said Paul Konerko. "We've got six more left with them and it's probably going down to the wire again, just like always."

Doesn't get any more basic than that.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.