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Garland gives sign of brighter future
Among the many great expectations and grand plans the White Sox had in spring training, one of the biggest was for Jon Garland to take a major leap and begin fulfilling the promise everyone expected of him.
It hasn't quite worked out that way, but Garland finished his 2004 season Friday night with a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The win helped Garland close out the year with a 12-11 record and a 4.89 ERA.
It's Garland's first winning season.
Garland went six innings Friday night, allowing two runs on five hits as the Sox (82-78) clinched a winning season as well as second place in the Central Division for the third straight season.
Sox general manager Ken Williams said Friday that perhaps the expectations were too high this season.
"I've been guilty of greater expectations for Jon, but they aren't unreasonable expectations," Williams said.
At some point in a career, one has to wonder if a player is simply what his numbers indicate he is.
Garland, 25, is 46-51 in his career and has double-digit victories in each of his three full seasons in the majors.
His biggest downfall has been giving up one big inning. He has allowed three or more runs in an inning 13 times this season.
"It's just because of one inning that goes bad for him [each start] or he'd have a great year," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Garland almost had one of those innings in the first Friday. After allowing a leadoff double to David DeJesus, he walked Joe Randa and Matt Stairs to load the bases with one out.
He got Calvin Pickering to hit into a force that scored DeJesus, then retired Angel Berroa on a comebacker to limit the damage.
The Sox snapped a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the seventh when Joe Borchard scored on a wild pitch and Ben Davis came home on a bases-loaded walk.
The expectations for Garland may be lowered next season. With Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras expected to be the top three in the rotation, Guillen said Garland and Jason Grilli will be the candidates for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.
Despite his inconsistency, Williams said Garland is still a very coveted asset.
"If I put him out there, there would be 29 clubs calling me today," Williams said. "As we sit here right now today, the way we are shaped, he's a good fit for us.
"You always want bigger and better things out of talent you see, but sometimes it takes time."
Ross Gload extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games with a fourth-inning single. Gload's streak is the longest active streak in the majors.
Juan Uribe's pinch single in the seventh extended his hit streak to eight games.
The Sox have feasted on Kansas City pitching this season, hitting 36 home runs in the first 17 games against the Royals, the most against any opponent.
Mark Buehrle likely will lead the American League in innings pitched this season. His 245 1/3 lead Johan Santana's 228. Buehrle would be the first Sox pitcher to lead the league in innings since 1973 when Wilbur Wood threw 359 1/3.
Joe Borchard has one multihit game this season in 61 games. Infielder Wilson Valdez has two in 17 games.