If you happened to attend or watch the Chicago White Sox game on TV this past Sunday, you probably felt those last vestiges of hope go out the window as soon as Jose Quintana gave up a leadoff triple followed by a two-run homer against the Tampa Bay Rays. After a dismal week, it seems the Sox have finally given up. In a series in which the Sox needed to take three out of four, they ended up losing three out of four instead.
It all started Thursday in the opener against the Rays, where the Sox ended up losing 3-2. In all honesty, that game should’ve been tacked up as a win due to Jake Peavy’s awesome pitching performance. Peavy allowed only two earned runs through 7 1/3 innings and struck out six. But as has become typical, the White Sox offense couldn’t back their pitcher when he was doing well, and ended up leaving 10 base runners stranded.
Then we were brought to quite the curiosity in the next game on Friday. Somehow, everything was clicking for the Sox. In a must-win game, the Pale Hose pitched well, and they took advantage of their own offensive ability as well. They topped the Rays 3-1, and this was behind another strong performance by Sox pitching. Gavin Floyd pitched five innings to pick up the win, while Jesse Crain put in 2 2/3 innings of work to help hold the lead down. Alex Rios continued to look good when he launched a solo shot in the fourth inning, and closer Addison Reed picked up his 29th save of the season.
To top it off, Detroit had lost their game to Minnesota during that game, allowing the Sox to gain considerable ground in the race. However, that spark of hope during Friday night’s win just didn’t last long enough. It was like an ex-girlfriend calling back after 10 years for a one-night stand. And then once the next day rolled around, you realize why that was a bad idea.
Saturday was a complete debacle, with Chris Sale having one of his worst starts of the season. Only lasting 3 1/3 innings, Sale gave up five earned runs, and put the Sox into quite the hole. Typically during such a horribly pitched game, you would think the Sox and their offense would be on fire… because that’s what happens with the Sox – they do everything backwards. However, the Rays would keep tacking up runs while the Sox and their offense remained absolutely stagnant. By the eighth inning, the Sox were down 10-0, until pinch hitter Orlando Hudson hit a grand slam to make some fireworks go off. The Sox would end up losing by that score, 10-4, and went home with their playoff hopes just about shot. It was obvious that no matter what, there was no way the game and the series could be lost on Sunday.
Of course, things don’t always go the way one would like. In what could possibly have been A.J. Pierzynski’s last home appearance as a White Sox player, the team seemed doomed from the beginning of the game. Struggling rookie Quintana gave up a leadoff triple to Desmond Jennings. What followed next was a two-run homer by B.J. Upton, followed by another walk before the young pitcher calmed down. However, as soon as that home run ball left the ballpark, you could tell a dark cloud came over the stadium. For what it’s worth, the Sox did stage a bit of a rally in the fourth inning, when Rios knocked in Kevin Youkilis with a base hit, and Dayan Viciedo recorded a sacrifice fly. Rios has really been the only player during the last week or so to really do anything offensively for the Sox. Somehow, he’s been the one player who has not laid down and thrown in the towel. But one man can’t do the job alone. The pitching continued to struggle as well, and the Sox couldn’t rebound in a 6-2 loss in front of over 26,000 fans at their home finale.
While the Sox are not mathematically eliminated yet, the Detroit Tigers’ magic number is now set at one. So that means the only way the Sox can possibly make the playoffs is if somehow the lowly Kansas City Royals can sweep Detroit, and the Pale Hose can actually win three in a row from the Cleveland Indians. Even after that, that still leaves the Sox and Tigers tied for first, and a game 163 would have to take place to decide who reaches the American League Divisional Series. Now on the one hand, if that were to happen, the Sox would be riding a high on a three game winning streak, possibly giving them momentum to defeat Detroit. But there’s just no reason to be looking up now.
Perhaps if the Sox had gone 6-1 this past week, and had played this bad stretch sometime in June, then there would be reason for hope. But this current Sox team… they look like they’ve been playing without any spirit at all for the last few weeks. The Sox are 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Tigers are 7-3. While the Tigers surely don’t deserve the division crown either, at least they turned it on when it was important, showing they actually wanted to be there. That drive just hasn’t seemed to be present in the Sox lately, and to think they can topple the 67-92 Indians at this point in time is absolutely laughable. The Tribe just finished up beating on Kansas City on Sunday with a 15-3 victory. So first off, it’s obvious the Tigers will just roll over the Royals, and secondly, there’s no way the Sox and their pitching can handle an offensive output such as that. So really, you got to have a lot of hope to believe the Sox can make something out of this disastrous September. As soon as the Tigers win another game, or the Sox lose one, it’s all over. Anything less than a sweep will be considered a failure. In fact, anything less than a playoff berth will be considered a failure as well.
Game 1 (Monday, 6:05 p.m. CT)
Hector Santiago (3-1, 3.69 ERA) vs. Corey Kluber (2-4, 5.02 ERA)
Game 2 (Tuesday, 6:05 p.m. CT)
Jake Peavy (11-12, 3.37 ERA) vs. Justin Masterson (11-15, 5.03 ERA)
Game 3 (Wednesday, 6:05 p.m. CT)
Gavin Floyd (11-11, 4.47 ERA) vs. David Huff (3-0, 2.86 ERA)
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