Going into this 10 game road trip, I’ll admit that I didn’t expect the White Sox to do very well. We have had trouble with the Indians all year, we always seem to get knocked around by the AL East, and I figured that after playing Boston we would end up splitting the series with the Tigers and stumble home with a 5-5 or 6-4 road trip. The White Sox definitely proved me wrong on that one. Sweeping both the Indians and the Red Sox and starting the road trip 7-0 was about the last thing any White Sox fan expected. We all had so much hope going into Comerica Park to play the Tigers because we have played very well there all season. Going 8-2 or 9-1, possibly even 10-0 was a legit though….. and that’s where the downfall began. We got our hopes up too high and the White Sox helped bring us all back to reality by stumbling out of Detroit with a 1-3 record for the series. Despite going 7-0 over the first 7 games, we managed to fall to 6 games behind the Twins in the division after losing the last 3.
The offense had it’s good moments and it’s bad moments over the road trip:
- Paul Konerko: 9-31 (.290) 3 doubles, 1 home run, 6 RBI
- Manny Ramirez: 7-24 (.292)
- Omar Vizquel: 11-36 (.305) 2 doubles, 1 home run, 3 RBI
- Alex Rios: 11-35 (.314) 2 doubles, 3 home runs, 7 RBI
- Alexei Ramirez : 7-35 (.200) 1 home run, 4 RBI
- Juan Pierre: 8-43 (.186) 2 doubles, 2 RBI
- A.J. Pierzynski: 11-29 (.379) 1 double, 1 home run, 7 RBI
- Mark Teahen: 4-22 (.182) 1 RBI
- Gordon Beckham: 5-19 (.263) 1 double, 2 RBI
- Mark Kotsay: 6-18 (.333) 2 doubles, 1 RBI
- Carlos Quentin: 6-27 (.222) 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 RBI
- Andruw Jones: 6-15 (.400) 2 doubles
You can clearly see who performed and who didn’t there. As usual, Alex Rios and Paul Konerko are at the top of the team in almost every category and A.J. Pierzynski has stepped it up contributing 7 RBI and going on a 14 game hitting streak that ended after failing to get a hit in today’s game. Other things need to change if the White Sox want to make the playoffs though. First off, our lead-off hitter needs to get on base a lot more than he has. Over the road trip, Juan Pierre had a .186 batting average. Yes the White Sox won 7 of 10 but how long can you go scoring runs with the lead off hitter playing poorly? If he can’t get on base then that leaves little chance for guys like Konerko and Rios to drive them in. Mark Teahen is already on the bubble because of his very shotty defense lately and batting .182 along with that is going to get him benched very quickly. Both Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin are hitting poorly and at least one of them needs to step up and get some hits.
If those players hitting poorly wasn’t bad enough, the White Sox are having issues with runners in scoring position, especially over the last 3 games against the Tigers. Over the first 7 games, the White Sox were 23 for 84 with runners in scoring position. That’s a .274 average which isn’t bad, but considering they won every game during that stretch, it was enough to get them the win. Over the last 3 games, the White Sox were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. That’s a .083 average and is not going to give any team a win unless their pitcher pitches a no hitter or perfect game. Not even the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, or any of the top teams in baseball right now can win a stretch of games with an average that low.
Pitching had it’s highs and lows as well over the road trip. The starters held their own for the most part but only went 3-3 over the 10 games. Freddy Garcia was definitely the low point due to being taken out of the game early in both starts due to lower back pain. This is how the starters performed over each of their two games pitched:
John Danks: (1-1) 13 IP, 14 hits, 6 runs, 3 earned runs, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts, 2.08 ERA
Gavin Floyd: (1-1) 12 IP, 18 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned runs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, 4.50 ERA
Mark Buehrle: (0-0) 13 IP, 18 hits, 7 runs, 7 earned runs, 2 home runs, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts, 4.85 ERA
Freddy Garcia: (0-1) 6 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 home run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 4.50 ERA
Edwin Jackson: (1-0) 16 IP, 16 hits, 7 runs, 7 earned runs, 2 home runs, 2 walks, 17 strikeouts, 3.94 ERA
Those aren’t horrible stats but they can definitely be better. Those ERAs are way too high for an entire starting rotation and Garcia only going 6 innings over two games is something the White Sox can’t afford because their bullpen will tire out way too fast. Garcia’s sore back may cause him to miss his next start so who knows how that is going to affect the bullpen.
The bullpen however, was the one true bright spot over this whole road trip. Aside from the blown save by Bobby Jenks against the Indians, they all held their own and more, giving quality outings every time they were called upon. Even after blowing the save against Cleveland, Jenks got out of the inning and the rest of the bullpen helped the White Sox win that game. Jenks even picked up two saves in the same day against Boston so he more than made up for his mistakes. He’s also is having forearm tightness so he may be out for a while. Here’s how the bullpen came out of the road trip:
Tony Pena: (1-0) 5 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1.80 ERA
Scott Linebrink: (2-0) 3.2 IP, 1 run, 1 earned run, 3 strikeouts, 1 hold, 2.45 ERA
Bobby Jenks: 4 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 3 saves, 1 blown save, 6.75 ERA
Matt Thornton: 2 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 save, 0.00 ERA
Sergio Santos: 3.2 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 3 holds, 0.00 ERA
Chris Sale: (1-0) 5.2 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts, 2 holds, 1 save
It’s pretty obvious that without the outstanding effort of the bullpen, the White Sox would have a much worse record than 7-3 on this road trip.
Probably the worst thing about this road trip was our defense. We had at least 1 error in 7 of the 10 games and they weren’t just errors that extended the inning a batter or two, it usually led to runs and even cost us games. Over the road trip, Brent Lillibridge has 1 error, Andruw Jones had 1 error, Alex Rios had 1 error, Mark Kotsay had 1 error, Alexei Ramirez had 2 errors, Mark Teahen had 2 very costly errors, and Carlos Quentin had an astounding 4 errors. That’s a total of 11 errors in 10 games if you weren’t keeping track of that. (the White Sox have 17 errors in their last 14 games) On Lillibridge’s error, that led to the blown save by Jenks and even though the White Sox won in extras, it shouldn’t have gotten there in the first place. Mark Teahen’s 2 errors in the same game led to 4 runs scored by the Tigers and eventually the loss. Overall, 14 runs were scored on errors over the past 10 games, including 5 unearned runs off of errors by Carlos Quentin.
Those problems mentioned above just aren’t acceptable. If the White Sox want to make any last ditch attempt at catching the Twins, things need to change quickly. Juan Pierre needs to start getting on base because that’s the job of the lead off hitter. Alexei Ramirez and Mark Teahen need to snap out of their funk, especially Teahen because he’s going to become an expensive bench player if he doesn’t. (Brent Morel starting at 3rd today shows that it’s already being considered). We need to hit much better with runners in scoring position because 1-12 over 3 games isn’t going to get us any closer to the Twins. A definite must is fielding needs to improve. I don’t care what team you are, if you comming 11 errors in 10 games and that leads to 14 runs being scored, you’re just not going to win games. I’ve said in previous posts that I’d rather see Brent Morel get a shot at third base or if worst come to worst put Omar Vizquel there when Gordon Beckham comes back. Regardless of who ends up there, Teahen needs to go. He’s too much of a liability and hasn’t really done much of anything to help the team at all this year.
All I know is this, changes need to happen soon or the 2010 season for the White Sox is going to be officially over by the end of next week.