ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matt Thornton, who lost the closer's role after four blown saves, had five consecutive scoreless outings going into the White Sox' game against the Rangers on Monday night, lowering his ERA to 5.93.
Thornton has modified his slider, going back to a harder, true 88-91 mph slider as opposed to the slower, more curvy second pitch he used to throw. He got a big strikeout with it against Oakland's David DeJesus,, but his bread-and-butter pitch is still a 96-97 mph fastball.
"It has a late cut when it's right,'' Thornton said. "Just a touch of cut where I get jams and broken bats. Hitters see a fastball coming in and they're geared up for a mid-90s fastball and it cuts at the end. It's a pretty tough pitch to handle.''
Thornton got a two-inning save Sunday and was going to relieve Jake Peavy in the ninth, if needed, on Wednesday. Peavy pitched a complete game. Thornton remains comfortable in innings seven through nine.
"People probably look and say, 'He can't handle the ninth inning.' That's not the case at all,'' Thornton said Monday. "Sergio [Santos] earned the right and he's got the majority of save opportunities. So be it. I haven't lost confidence in myself and they haven't lost confidence in me.''