Todd Ritchie can't explain what's happening to him, but he isn't afraid of staring down history.
The right-hander lost his 15th game Saturday as the White Sox fell 6-2 to Tampa Bay, remaining on pace to become the first pitcher to lose 20 games since Brian Kingman in 1980.
Kingman's 20-loss season has taken on a life of its own in recent years, with the former A's pitcher tracking possible 20-game losers on his own Web site. Ritchie is the latest to push the envelope, and the pressure is rising with each loss.
"That's a negative thing to talk about, if you ask me," Ritchie said. "Am I scared of it? No. There's a lot worse things in life than to lose 20 games. I'm not worried about it."
Manager Jerry Manuel said he would think about moving Ritchie to the bullpen, but wanted to wait and see where Ritchie's "head is at" before making a decision.
So where is Ritchie's head at?
"It's not a mental thing," he said. "The physical stuff is there. All the ingredients are there.
"I just give up a lot of hits, and I really don't know why. I've got the stuff. It's just not working for me right now."
Ritchie wants to stay in the rotation and redeem himself, but understands he has no control over it.
"If that's something they decide to do, that's their prerogative," he said.
"Do I want to go to the bullpen? No. Will I pitch in the bullpen if I have to? Yes. It's been a terrible year for me.
"The only thing I can think of to say is that it's been one bad year out of [many years]. Hopefully I can rebound and make it remotely a decent season. I don't give up hope."
Ritchie fell to 5-15 with his fifth straight loss. In his last three starts, over a combined 161/3 innings, he has been tagged for 18 earned runs and 33 hits.
Saturday was his first start in 11 days after being treated for inflammation in his shoulder and missing a start.
"I felt great, probably the strongest I felt all year," Ritchie said. "I just couldn't stay away from the big inning. Story of my year so far."
Ritchie gave up six runs in six innings, five of which were earned. He also gave up 10 hits, the third straight outing in which he has given up 10 or more hits.
Leading 1-0, the Devil Rays broke through with a five-run third inning, the third straight game a Sox starter has given up a five-run inning early in the game.
Paul Wilson (4-7) pitched eight innings to notch his second straight victory.
The Sox loaded the bases with one out in the ninth on three walks but failed to score.
The clubhouse took on a surreal feel afterward when Frank Thomas was heard screaming at Carlos Lee near the trainer's room after Lee criticized Thomas for not sliding into home and getting tagged out on a close play in the fifth inning.
"That's not why we lost the game," an angry Thomas said afterward.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times