Phil Humber rocked as White Sox routed by Red Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 26, 2012 11:16PM
Philip Humber gave up nine runs in five innings against the Red Sox on Thursday night. was rocked by the Red Sox bats Thurday evening. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: May 28, 2012 9:12AM
Placed on waivers not once but twice in one offseason, Philip Humber knows what it’s like on the scrap heap.
As the author of a perfect game in Seattle on Saturday, he knows how it is on the bottom of a dog pile, too.
Humber figured to get back to more familiar surroundings somewhere in between when he faced the Red Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday night, and, without the good slider that carried his day of the perfecto, he was far from perfect from the beginning. Humber got clubbed for nine runs on three homers — two by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, including a grand slam, as the Red Sox won 10-3.
Few among the 20,266 who came for specially priced $9 and $27 seats and Humber posters to commemorate the perfect game expected perfection, but not many would have predicted watching the 29-year-old right-hander allow a career-high nine runs, either. When they walked into U.S. Cellular Field, Humber was 1-0 with a 0.63 ERA. When they walked out, Humber’s ERA was 4.66.
With temperatures in the upper 30s at game time, Humber was rubbing his fingers and blowing into his pitching hand, and he may have had trouble getting a good grip on his slider. He threw a lot of fastballs early and couldn’t command the slider, leaving lots of them up and out of the strike zone.
Humber’s perfect game ended quickly. He walked leadoff batter Mike Aviles, and Justin Pedroia’s infield roller “ruined” the no-hitter. The shutout? That was done when No. 3 hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, doubled in Aviles.
A grand slam by a slumping Kevin Youkilis, followed by Saltalamachia’s first shot, put Humber in a 7-1 hole in the third.
An RBI double by Paul Konerko, RBI single by A.J. Pierzynski and home run by Dayan Viciedo.
Humber’s week was a flurry of celebrity activity with a phone call from the president and an appearance on David Letterman’s show. His focus through it all seemed good, as he was quick to talk about getting down to the business of preparing for his next start.
“He’s had that from getting to know him through spring training,’’ manager Robin Ventura said before the game. “He’s a humble kid. A hard worker and all those things.
“But he’s special in the way he handles all his stuff. It didn’t surprise me the way he handled it after it happened.”
As a former No. 3 draft pick by the Mets, Humber also once traded for Johan Santana, so he has a pedigree. The Sox had seen him pitch for the Royals and Twins, and scout Billy Scherrer strongly felt he could make it by improving the consistency of his slider.
Going into the 2011 season, the Sox rotation was uncertain with Jake Peavy’s health a question mark. Humber went to spring training competing with Lucas Harrell and Jeff Marquez for either the last spot in the rotation or a role in the bullpen.
Humber got back to the business of being a normal starting pitcher on Thursday, a business that will come with good and bad performances.
“People know he’s a good pitcher,’’ Ventura said. “I can tell you that.”