For some reason, the Chicago White Sox just can’t figure out the Kansas City Royals this season. Throughout the weekend series, it seemed that it took the Sox way too much effort to defeat, or even just hang with their Central Division foe. At the very least, the Sox did walk away with a lead on the Detroit Tigers going into their big series starting Monday. But the confidence of the team could be another story.
In the first game of the weekend series, the Sox struggled to hang with the Royals, but were able to tie the game 5-5 in the sixth inning. All this happened after starter Francisco Liriano continued his struggles by giving up five runs in five-plus innings. His control has definitely been an issue, and this is something the Sox and their staff have to keep an eye on as the playoffs loom nearer. However, the blame can’t be put on just Liriano. The offense stranded a total of 10 runners, and on top of that, the bullpen didn’t do a great job either. And by bullpen, I mean Addison Reed. Despite having 26 saves this year, the young closer also has an ERA of 4.56. And it’s obvious why, after he gave up three hits and two runs in the ninth, allowing KC to take the first game. Unfortunately, Reed’s struggles would continue into the next game.
Chris Sale started on Saturday, looking for his 16th win of the season, and he pitched well enough to get it in the Pale Hose’s 5-4 victory. However, the game should’ve ended way before the Royals had the go-ahead run at the plate. Sale pitched six strong innings giving up only a run, and fanned six, lowering his ERA to a very impressive 2.88 on the season.
When it came to the ninth inning, though, Robin Ventura put his faith in Reed once again. Things looked good after he retired the first two batters, but then when Jordan Danks misplayed a fly ball for the third out, things started to crumble. Reed proceeded to give up two more runs and almost let the game slip away. Fortunately, he was able to record the save and give the Sox the win they desperately needed. At least then, the Sox knew they had a chance to win the series against a team they’ve struggled against all year. And truthfully, it never should have come to this point in the first place. If the Sox could’ve just won a couple more games against the Royals this season, perhaps the series against the Tigers wouldn’t be nearly as pressing. But since that wasn’t the case, the rubber match of the Royals series turned out to be a big deal.
Hector Santiago made an emergency start in the final game and pitched a scoreless four-plus innings. And in turn, the bullpen pitched well behind him, up until the Sox reached extra-inning play. Brian Omogorosso and Nate Jones pitched two scoreless innings apiece. In the 10th inning, however, veteran Brett Myers was an out away from retiring the side when the scoreless streak finally ended, surrendering the two runs that ended up being all the Royals needed to defeat the Sox. In the bottom half of the inning, the Sox did threaten to win and scored a run, but it was too little too late. In this game, the team left seven men on base, and was a dismal 2-10 with runners in scoring position. With so many chances to score, the Sox should have easily won this game. This was yet another prime example of the Sox problems this year; when the pitching does well, the hitting will flounder, and vice versa.
Surprisingly, the Sox are still two games up on the Tigers for first place, thanks to the Los Angeles Angels sweeping Detroit. What we see here, is something absolutely pathetic. Nether team is taking charge of this division. The Sox have had every opportunity to bury the Tigers. Being 3-7 in their last 10 games, it’s plain to see that two or three more victories would have given the Sox a stranglehold on the Tigers. It’s like both teams have no desire to win this division. How two teams could play so horribly down the stretch is beyond my comprehension. This four-game set is going to show who wants it more… most likely, at least. If the past week is any indication, and this goes for both teams, we’ll see a split in the series and continue to wonder who will be the Central Division Champion up until Sept. 30. So sit back and strap it down; it’s going to be a bumpy ride to the finish.
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