CLEVELAND -- The confidence level for Philip Humber remains high after Monday's 8-6 loss to the Indians in Game 1 of a split doubleheader at Progressive Field, despite having a third consecutive less-than-perfect start.
Humber (1-2) just needs to figure out a way to get the on-field results to match that unwavering belief in himself.
"I'm not getting down on myself," said Humber, who lasted a season-low 2 1/3 innings and gave up eight earned runs on nine hits. "I know I have what it takes to pitch well. It's just a matter of for it to happen."
As Humber pointed out Monday evening, he's had two good starts of his five made this season, including the 21st perfect game hurled in Major League Baseball history on April 21. He's had one decent trip to the mound and two terrible performances.
Those terrible showings both have come since he made history against the Mariners.
In fact, since the perfect game at Safeco Field, Humber has allowed 20 earned runs on 21 hits over 13 1/3 innings, covering three starts. He has fanned 11 and walked 11 in that stretch.
Monday's effort started promising enough, when Humber retired the first three Cleveland hitters faced on 10 pitches. Nine of the next 13 Indians who came to the plate reached safely via a hit.
By the time Humber was replaced by Jose Quintana with one out in the third, the Indians (16-11) had laid the ground work to push Humber's ERA up to a lofty 6.83.
Cleveland had seven left-handed hitters in their starting lineup and two switch-hitters, even though Humber had limited lefties to a .176 average entering the contest. On this day, though, the constant line drives hung out against Humber indicated hitting lefty, righty or both might not have made a difference.
"Today I did not feel like I had very good stuff at all. The ball wasn't coming out of my hand very good," said Humber, who stressed this particular feeling definitely was not related to a health issue. "Just for whatever reason, I didn't feel like I had very good stuff.
"That's a unique situation in their roster. They have a lot of left-handed batters and obviously they have a theory about putting a lot of lefties in the lineup against me. But we are prepared as far as knowing how to pitch them, and after that, it's a matter of executing your pitches. Obviously that didn't happen today."
Travis Hafner started this run against Humber with a leadoff homer in the second. The Indians knocked out five hits in that frame, including four straight, and scored three times. They had five straight baserunners in the third, when the Indians scored five times. In the second and third combined, the Indians sent 19 men to the plate.
Even trailing by an 8-2 margin, the White Sox had a chance to rally late thanks to Quintana. The left-hander made his Major League debut as the 26th-man roster exemption called up from Double-A Birmingham for the doubleheader, and he completely shut down the Cleveland attack.
Quintana worked 5 2/3 innings and yielded nothing more than Hafner's first triple since 2007 and a pair of walks. He also struck out three and produced the longest scoreless outing by a White Sox reliever since Brian Keyser tossed 5 2/3 innings of zeros against the Rangers on Aug. 20, 1995.
"Originally I was a little bit tense, but as it went along I started to relax a little more," said Quintana, through translator and White Sox director of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "It was definitely on my mind that I was going in. It was just a matter of when. I was ready, and I was prepared."
"He was coming in to limit the damage and did more than that. He did great," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Quintana, who walked two and forced in a run in the third, but was almost perfect from there. "He was keeping them off-balance and he was composed."
Down, 8-4, entering the ninth, the White Sox (13-16) actually brought the go-ahead run to the plate thanks to Cleveland reliever Jairo Asencio's wildness and Alexei Ramirez's two-run single. But with Ramirez on second, Alejandro De Aza on first and two outs, Nick Hagadone retired Brent Lillibridge on a ground ball to second to pick up his first big league save. That save preserved Zach McCallister's first big league victory.
"Our offense started early and had a good approach at the plate," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "We scored enough. I'm glad we did that, so we didn't have to rely so much on some of our bullpen guys."
Quintana's 80-pitch performance saved the White Sox bullpen, but the bigger concern centers on Humber. He has gone from the hero of the day to a pitcher looking for answers.
"You're concerned because he's scuffling and thinking about it, but he's going to be starting next week," said Ventura of Humber. "We'll figure out a way to fix it."
"Right now, I'm frustrated. It's just the last two or three times out there have been rough," Humber said. "I'm definitely hoping for better results and I'm doing the best I can and working hard to make that happen. Just right now it's kind of a grind."