Friday, June 6, 2014

Erik Johnson's struggles continue in 13-4 loss to Red Wings

It’s now been two starts since Erik Johnson has been able to find any semblance of rhythm to his game.

Tabbed as the White Sox No. 3 starter and No. 2 prospect by Baseball America to begin the season, Johnson has backed up like a kid trying to climb up the down escalator.

The 6-foot-3-inch California native has shown flashes of the low-to-mid 90’s fastball and wipeout slider that gave the White Sox some much reason for optimism during a five-start audition he made in the big leagues last season; however, he’s not been able to build on those small successes.

Johnson lasted four innings in Friday’s 13-4 loss to the Rochester Red Wings in front of 10,421. He allowed seven runs on six hits and five walks, and has now issued 13 free passes in his last nine innings of work.

“It could me mechanics; it could be a number of things going on out there,” Johnson said after the game. “The things that I need to accomplish aren’t mechanical. It’s about throwing strikes; it’s about getting ahead and putting guys away.”

There are those who have speculated that there may be a physical issue holding Johnson back, but that’s not the case, says Johnson.

“Everything’s feeling good.”

Johnson (1-3) issued three free passes in the first inning that all turned into runs when Chris Colabello crushed a one-out grand slam to left.

In his second trip to the mound, Johnson walked two more and watched both score later in the frame on a single and a sacrifice fly. He allowed three more hits and a run in fourth to put an end to another long night, finishing with 97 pitches (55 for strikes). 

“In the first, I got behind, walked a few guys all on fastballs,” said Johnson, whose ERA climbed to 6.49. “Later, I threw some good curveballs and got some swing and misses on changeups. The slider was there too and fastball came as the game went on. Take away the first inning and I’m probably pitching a lot deeper into that game.”

 The Knights offense continued to utilize the long ball, getting back-to-back home runs from Jordan Danks and Matt Davidson in the second inning to make it a 6-2 game and then a two-run shot from Josh Phegley in the fifth.

The home run for Danks was his fourth in three days. The long-time Knights centerfielder now has seven on the season, despite spending 21 games while playing up with Chicago.

Southpaw Frank De Los Santos replaced Johnson in the fifth and faired equally as dreadful, allowing six runs over two innings without striking out a batter.

Johnson's next chance to right the ship comes in five days. 

“I’m just trying to get back,” he said. “This process that I’m going to go through if it’s the process I need to go through. You pitch and you learn. Tomorrow I’m going to get back to work.”


par said...

Erik Johnson looks like he has the tools. On Friday he looked like he was aiming, rather throwing the ball.