There definitely appears to be a crack in the armor of the White Sox after a nightmarish 10 game road trip shows just how vulnerable the White Sox really are.
Things were looking up for the White Sox as the last game before the All-Star break ended with a 15-5 win over the Royals earning them an 8 game winning streak. The pitchers were on fire and giving quality start after quality start, the offense was heating up, players were coming through in the clutch, it seemed like the White Sox had it all.
Just a few stats from when the White Sox first went on a 4 game winning streak and have been on a roll:
The White Sox scored 156 total runs over 30 games where they had a record of 25-5. They only allowed 77 total runs over those 30 games, including shutouts over the Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. White Sox pitchers had a combined ERA of 1.92 over that stretch (3.79 if you decide to count Daniel Hudson’s one outing against the Royals but that one game game him an ERA of 11.25 so that makes the ERA of the whole staff jump up big time). Gordon Beckham broke out of his slump to raise his average .038 from .201 to .239 with 9 multi-hit games, an 8 game hitting streak, and started to look like the future All-Star that he is. They shut down teams like the Atlanta Braves and the Texas Rangers who are having great seasons right now and just made winning look so easy and effortless.
Since the All-Star break and the 25-5 record they had leading up to it, things have changed considerably:
The White Sox have a record of 4-6 against the Twins, Mariners, and Athletics. They are posting a collective 4.38 ERA as a staff, including a 10.14 ERA for Freddy Garcia, who was the White Sox most consistent and reliable pitcher up until recently, had the shortest outing of his career on Saturday when he went only 1 1/3 innings and gave up 5 runs in Oakland. The only plus has been the fact that over their past two games Mark Buehrle has posted a 2.11 ERA and Gavin Floyd has posted a minascule 0.75 ERA (1.12 ERA over the entire 25-5 stretch and the 10 games after that). The clutch hitting the White Sox have been having has seemed to disappear with a snap of the fingers. Bobby Jenks is having yet another meltdown after blowing saves and losing the game to both the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners and is starting to create doubt as to whether he can continue on being the closer for the White Sox.
So it’s pretty clear that the swagger the White Sox had in recent weeks seems to have disappeared. The teams they should be beating, they aren’t beating. When they have a lead, Bobby Jenks isn’t closing the door on them, especially in important division games like the game he blew in Minnesota with a 4 run lead going into the 9th. The clutch hitting of Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin has vanished faster than a fastball leaving Stephen Strasburg’s hand. The White Sox are in a bad way and they need to right the ship quick or they can kiss the postseason goodbye.
It’s hard to watch as a fan because after going 25-5 you expect them to win. When things go bad as quickly as they are, you can’t help but panic because it’s not just one thing here and there going wrong, it’s the entire team taking two steps back after taking a gigantic step forward. I still say the addition of Adam Dunn can help the offense get back on track. The pitching will come around as Daniel Hudson gets more familiar with the major leagues, Freddy Garcia should be able to regain his composure, and the other three (Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks) just need to continue what they are doing. As for the closer situation, I completely agree with having whoever fits the situation best pitch in the 9th so Jenks can regain his composure and hopefully go back to being the dominant closer we all know he can be. It’s going to take a lot of things to go right but I know the White Sox can get back into playoff form and steal the Central division while it’s there for the taking.
It all starts tonight with the White Sox being back at home to take on the Seattle Mariners. Southpaw John Danks (10-7 3.37) will take on the ace of the Mariners King Felix Hernandez (7-6 2.75). It will be no easy task but the White Sox will be up to the challenge at home where they are 27-19 this season. I’ll be at the game so I’ll be sure to give a full recap once I get back.
And as always…… GO WHITESOX!!!!!