By Daniel I. Dorfman–
(WSCR) Recently, there was some hope perking up from the South Side. After their 11-22 start, the White Sox had gone 27-18 heading into Sunday’s game and were within three and half games of first place. Anybody feeling that great today?
After Tuesday night’s effort(?) in Colorado, which Sox manager Ozzie Guillen labeled the worst game of the year in his obligatory profanity-laced tirade, it is clear the holes on this team continue to overshadow any reason to be optimistic.
True believers are going to cite the fact that the Sox remain only five games behind Detroit and four behind Cleveland. They will also point out the starting pitching hasn’t been bad and any time a team has decent pitching they have a shot. OK, fine, that is all true.
It is still reasonable to believe the Sox pitching will be adequate, but other facts speak just as loudly about this team. Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to Colorado in 13 innings was a microcosm of the season: They stranded seven runners, hit into two crucial double plays and went 2-for-27 after the fifth inning. Overall, the Sox are 10-12 in one-run games, they are hitting .243 with runners in scoring position, that average decreases to .207 with runners in scoring position with two outs. And other than last Friday’s game against Washington, when they came back three times, the Sox are only hitting .241 from the seventh inning on.
They are in the middle of the pack in numerous other offensive categories and besides Juan Pierre, there is no one on the team with any type speed. That may not come into play every game, but remember Friday night, when Guillen pinch ran for Paul Konerko in the 10th inning with 44-year-old Omar Vizquel?
Besides the losses, there are other troubling signs popping up. There is no question the Sox have gotten more than anyone ever could have expected out of Brent Lillibridge, with his clutch hits and strong defense. But the bloom may be coming off the rose. On Friday night against the Nationals, with the score tied at four, Lillibridge came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. All he needed was a fly ball, but instead he was trying to hit the ball into Lake Michigan. He eventually went down swinging and the Sox lost in 14 innings.
Then Tuesday night, on the Ty Wiggington bloop single where Troy Tulowitzki scored from first to win the game for the Rockies, it sure didn’t appear Lillibridge was hustling to get to the ball. That he was playing back to prevent a double is understandable, but how often does anyone score from first on a bloop single, even if they were running on the pitch? Very ironic considering Ozzie Guillen had benched Alex Rios earlier in the game because he did not like the way he was running the bases, to go along with an error in the fifth inning.
Now, with his average down to .221 to go along with a colossal six homers and 20 RBI, we have Rios in trouble with Guillen for not running the bases properly, Adam Dunn has reached the 100 strike out mark and Gordon Beckham is hitting .229. All three players are seeing plenty of time on the bench, which in the case of Rios and Dunn is a lot of money to sit down. But at this point, the Sox don’t have much of a choice.
So this is the state of the 2011 White Sox: An offense that was supposed to thrive, instead it sputters. Players who are supposed to be grinders, instead make careless mental mistakes. And a half empty U.S. Cellular Field does not exactly see a team that is “All In.”
October could be a very quiet month in Chicago. There may not be an NFL season, there may not be a Bulls training camp and there sure doesn’t look like there will be any baseball victory parades.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.