CHICAGO -- Three starts make up the White Sox career of right-handed hurler Felipe Paulino.
He has recorded just one out into the sixth among those three, factoring in his five-inning effort during a 12-6 loss to the Indians before 27,332 at a warm but windy U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday afternoon.
Paulino did not officially earn a decision in the final outcome, with the loss going to Ronald Belisario (1-1) and the Indians (6-6) putting the game out of reach via four runs scored in the ninth against Donnie Veal. But Paulino's struggles had a direct effect on the White Sox setback.
In a game where the White Sox (6-6) scored one more run off of Cleveland starter Justin Masterson in the first inning (four) than they did over 32 2/3 innings combined in '13, Paulino could not support the offense. And with Paulino working a total of 14 2/3 innings over his three starts, he's taxing a White Sox bullpen that hasn't exactly been overpowering through the first 12 games.
The White Sox aren't giving up on the free-agent addition after just three trips to the mound, but there is certainly some concern that comes with these struggles.
"As of right now, we'll continue to go," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Paulino's rotation spot. "We have guys in the bullpen -- you can't have guys coming in the fifth inning. It's just not a recipe that's going to make guys last out there, so it has to be better."
"I'm worried too, sometimes, because I want to be good for the team. I want to make the White Sox win," Paulino said. "But it's baseball. It's a long season. I believe in myself and that I'm going to be OK."
This game might have been different for Paulino if not for a first-inning overturned call via a Cleveland replay challenge that seemed to spark a three-run rally for the Indians. Nyjer Morgan opened the game with a single, but was then picked off of first by Paulino following a Nick Swisher strikeout.
That was at least the original call from first-base umpire and crew chief Gerry Davis. The replay left Morgan at first, instead of nobody on base with two outs, and the Indians took advantage.
Paulino allowed six runs on six hits, while striking out three and walking three. He also yielded three home runs, including back-to-back shots to Swisher and Jason Kipnis with one out in the fifth to give Cleveland a 6-5 advantage. That Swisher blast came on an 0-2 pitch.
"I've got this guy 0-2, and he hit a home run," said Paulino of Swisher. "It's frustrating because I know in my past I never missed my pitch up. It's something that's happening right now, and I have to figure it out."
Jordan Danks' fielder's choice grounder to Swisher at first scored Alexei Ramirez with the tying run in the fifth, after Ramirez made a great slide home to avoid a Carlos Santana tag. The White Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in that frame but scored only once.
Cleveland took control in the seventh, when walks from Belisario and Scott Downs eventually set up Ryan Raburn's two-run, go-ahead single to center off Daniel Webb. The White Sox bullpen now has a 7.53 ERA over 34 2/3 innings this season, with 23 walks issued.
Raburn has four RBIs over the first three games of this series and 72 in 306 career at-bats against the White Sox.
"I was just trying to put the barrel on the ball. The kid has got a good arm," said Raburn of his game-winning hit off of Webb. "He was throwing pretty hard. Just trying to get a good pitch to hit, square up and see what happens after that."
Adam Eaton launched his first White Sox homer, scored two more times and reached base in his seventh straight at-bat dating back to Friday, before tapping out to Santana to end the fifth-inning rally. He finished with his fifth straight multihit game after an eighth-inning double.
Eaton once again pointed to the fight of the team after the loss. He focused more on their quick comeback from a 3-0, first-inning hole, as opposed to the pitching woes.
"We are going up there with an approach and trying to execute the approach," said Eaton of the offense, which pushed across six runs (five earned) on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings against Masterson, including a two-run Adam Dunn single. "Everything will come around, and we'll be just fine. But I love seeing the fight."
This White Sox rotation was aligned with Paulino and Erik Johnson splitting up the lefty trio of Chris Sale (No. 1), Jose Quintana (No. 3) and John Danks (No. 5). The order also didn't put Paulino -- who hadn't pitched in a big league game since June 2012 before this year due to ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery and a cyst on his shoulder -- and the rookie Johnson back-to-back.
Even with that built-in break, Paulino's outings have been too stressful on the White Sox relievers. He knows his return is a work in progress and plans to get back to work immediately with pitching coach Don Cooper.
"My arm is OK," Paulino said. "The thing right now is just try to understand the situation that has happened to me the last two years. Just keep working and figure out the little things I'm looking for to be successful and try to go deep into the game."
"Colorado is one thing," said Ventura of Paulino's last start. "Then coming back and being in another place is another. Guys have to go deeper into a game."