Starting pitching key to White Sox turnaround

Club begins important homestand with 4-7 record

Starting pitching key to White Sox turnaround

DETROIT -- The White Sox have faced every challenger in the American League Central through the first 11 games of the season, and enter their seven-game homestand against the Indians and Royals with a 4-7 record courtesy of a 9-1 setback to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

They have a .238 average with just 38 runs scored -- 12 coming in Saturday's victory. They have a 4.82 ERA and just four quality starts, while winning just one of their first four series.

Yes, it's still very early in a season the White Sox entered with postseason expectations. And their record through 11 games against their direct competition hasn't dampened the White Sox long-term playoff hopes.

"It's a good one. It's definitely competitive," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers of the AL Central after the 10-2 Tigers won the weekend series at Comerica Park. "If we do what we are capable of, there's no reason why we are not at the top of this thing."

"This is a very tough division. All five teams are very good," said White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo. "For us, it's just to keep working and try to do the best that we can every day without thinking of the other teams. We have to think about us."

Must C: Cespedes goes deep twice

In thinking about the White Sox as Cabrera suggested, the first thought that jumps to mind is starting pitching will drive this team's quest for success. That starting pitching has not been nearly as strong as desired through the first 11 games.

Jose Quintana allowed a career-high nine runs against the Tigers on Sunday, lasting just four-plus innings and 93 pitches. He threw 42 pitches in the first, with pitch No. 40 deposited into the left-field stands by Yoenis Cespedes for a grand slam.

Finishing hitters stood as Quintana's problem, as two guys who he was ahead of in the first inning reached base, and he went to seven full counts. But just as the White Sox aren't worried about the team start, they don't seem concerned with the rough go for the rotation.

"We have a good staff here," Quintana said. "To win the game and the series is the most important thing, but I had a bad day today."

"It is a long season," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "With [Chris Sale] coming back, it makes us stronger. Q is going to be better. He knows that, I know that and so does our team."

There's little doubt the White Sox believe this team will follow the same path as Quintana in terms of improvement. They would like the wins to start coming Monday against the Indians in their first real homestand.

"Not a do-or-die homestand, but I think in general we are playing a lot better and more to our capabilities," Flowers said. "Get rid of today, but before that, we had been playing some good games. We are on the right track. We expect a good homestand and to keep it rolling."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.