After Wednesday night’s loss to the Yankees, the White Sox were two and a half games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Indians finalized a three-game sweep of the Twinkies, highlighted by Joe Nathan’s first-ever allowed, walk-off home run Tuesday night.
Tonight, the Sox lost again and the Twins managed to come back and win against the Rays. They’re now one and a half games out. With 11 games remaining, however, it’s becoming less likely that the Twins will overcome Chicago and win the pennant.
But don’t think the White Sox are playing like they deserve it.
It’s not news the Sox have been a .500ish team in the second half, but what’s caught my attention is that the Twins haven’t taken advantage of it, and as a result have been two games or less behind first place for a good month and a half.
The truth is you can attribute most of the Sox’ woes to the injury bug. Their pitching suffered setbacks early on with Jose Contreras’ torn Achille’s tendon and setup man Scott Linebrink’s sore shoulder.
At the same time the bullpen hasn’t been the same rock-solid crop of guys that overachieved in the first-half, and as such, the team has barely manage to hang on to frst place.
”Our bullpen is struggling right now,” Guillen said, ”and that’s why I’m trying to keep the starters in as long as I can.”
On top of all that, the offense took a couple of hits lately with Carlons Quentin (and his MVP-like numbers) and Paul Konerko going down.
Sure the injury bug has hurt the team, but that doesn’t excuse the lackluster seasons that the offseason acquisitions are putting up. Orlando Cabrera (.281/.336/.369) took a while to get his offensive numbers up, and Nick Swisher’s numbers are slightly down in comparison to last year’s (but nothing that’ll carry a team to the promised land).
In other words, the Sox are barely chugging along, getting some occasional offensive brilliance from people like Cuban rookie Alexei Ramirez and clutch hitting from Jim Thome (and some of the bench guys), but they’re not running away with it.
In fact, it almost seems like it’s the Twins that don’t want to win it. They’re 13-17 in the past 30 games (Sox are 16-14).
It’s actually curious, both Sox and Twins have been more or less in sync in the second half. The Sox would go on a winning streak, threatening to run away with it, and then lose two or three in a row, allowing the Twins to catch up. But then, Minnesota stays right there. What’s more, as a team they’ve scored more runs, have more RBI, have a better team average, and a better on-base percentage than the Sox.
I don’t get it.
But as many a Sox fan, I’ve resorted to a silly game of scoreboard gawking, hoping the Twins manage to lose, and lose, and lose.
I’ll worry about the playoffs when we get there.