Even as the Chicago White Sox's offense struggled, consistent efforts from the starting rotation seemed to keep the team afloat.
Now that's gone, too, and Chicago continues to tumble.
Chicago's starters were solid during the team's 24-24 start, going 18-14 with a 3.43 ERA. But the White Sox have since lost 16 of 21 as the rotation has stumbled, posting a 2-12 record and a 4.77 ERA. This past five-game turn has seen that group surrender 18 runs and 33 hits through 27 innings.
The lineup continues to show few signs of life, averaging 3.5 runs in the last 21 games.
Even Chris Sale - the rotation's most steady presence - was not immune to damage in a 7-4 loss to the Twins on Wednesday. He matched a season worst by surrendering eight hits as well as four runs while lasting only five innings.
The White Sox (29-40) are 11 games under .500 for the first time since being 11-22 on May 6, 2011.
"We haven't quit," said Alex Rios , in a 3-for-20 slump and the only Chicago player hitting over .270 (minimum 100 at-bats). "It's still a long way to go, and we can get hot any time."
Morneau's home run, his third of the year and first since April 28, tied him with Kirby Puckett for fifth on the Twins' all-time list at 207.
"Hopefully that gets the monkey off my back, and we can get rolling," Morneau said.
He now looks to go deep against Danks (1-3, 4.50 ERA), who continues to be plagued by homers. His 1.80 home runs allowed per nine innings would be one of the highest rates in the majors if he pitched enough innings to qualify. He served up two homers in a 4-3 loss at Houston on Saturday, surrendering four runs over six innings.
Danks was pulled after 76 pitches, his fewest since throwing the same number May 24 in his first start after a year off due to shoulder surgery.
"I'm healthy. I feel good," Danks told the team's official website. "I just do what I'm told. That's part of it."
Morneau is 11 for 35 with three homers and 10 walks off Danks, who is 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA over his last four starts against the Twins. He's 1-4 with a 6.05 ERA in his past nine in Minnesota.
The Twins counter with another struggling left-hander in Scott Diamond (4-6, 5.29). Opponents are hitting .346 in his last seven starts as he's gone 1-4. Five of his losses have come in Minneapolis, where he owns a 6.40 ERA after yielding four runs in 5 2-3 innings in a 4-0 loss to Detroit on Friday.
All four runs came in the sixth when he surrendered three straight RBI doubles. Diamond has allowed at least three runs in one inning in three of his last four outings.
"I feel like it's definitely coming around. I just need to prevent these big innings," he said. "It's getting pretty frustrating, and it's not letting me get later into the game."
Diamond, 3-4 with a 4.65 ERA in seven starts against the White Sox, held them to two runs - one earned - and four hits over six innings in a 5-3 road win April 21.
Chicago has lost 14 of its last 16 road games.
|Alejandro De Aza||14||.500||7||0||1||0||3||.500||1.143||.643|
|Chicago White Sox|
|June 15, 2013||Alejandro De Aza||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 05, 2013||Jake Peavy||15-Day DL||Fractured rib - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 04, 2013||Jake Peavy||Day-to-Day||Left game - Rib pain|
|May 30, 2013||Dewayne Wise||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 22, 2013||Chris Sale||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|May 02, 2013||Dewayne Wise||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|June 11, 2013||Jared Burton||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|June 10, 2013||Aaron Hicks||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|June 01, 2013||Justin Morneau||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|May 29, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 29, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 26, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||15-Day DL||Head injury|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins flexed some muscle for their first three-game sweep of the season. The Chicago White Sox were easily overpowered in this lopsided series.
Brian Dozier 's two-run homer was one of a career-high four long balls hit off John Danks , and the Twins beat the White Sox 8-4 on Thursday.
"It always helps a lot when you've got everybody hitting in the lineup," said Dozier, who homered for the third time in his last four games. "Hopefully that won't let up, and we can continue the hot bats and the pitching and defense."
Oswaldo Arcia went deep in the second inning ahead of Dozier. Clete Thomas and Eduardo Escobar hit back-to-back shots in the fourth, sending the White Sox to their seventh defeat in the last eight games. They fell to a league-worst 13-28 on the road and 5-13 in June.
"The game is hard enough when you're not playing well," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "When you're not playing well, you can see all the warts."
Danks (1-4) lasted only five innings, giving up 12 hits and six runs. Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn hit consecutive home runs against Scott Diamond (5-6) in the sixth inning, but that wasn't nearly enough.
The six combined homers on this humid, breezy afternoon matched a record at Target Field, which opened in 2010. The Twins last swept the White Sox in a three-game series Sept. 14-16, 2010, in Chicago. They'd never done it here before.
"You're only as good as your last game, but there's a confidence level," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The White Sox dropped to 29-41, the first time they've been 12 games under .500 since the last day of the 2007 season, when they finished 72-90. That was the only year in the history of the AL Central, which was created in 1994, the White Sox have finished in fourth place. They've never finished last in the Central, but they're well on their way this summer, with starting pitching joining this week the list of problems topped by fielding and scoring.
"We truly feel like we're way too good to be playing like this," Danks said. "We feel we're just as talented as any team in the league."
The signs of struggle were everywhere. Alejandro De Aza's drag bunt attempt in the fifth inning sailed about 20 feet in the air all the way to Dozier for an easy catch at second base. Then in the sixth, shortstop Alexei Ramirez let a soft two-out grounder get through his legs for an error. Two batters later, Justin Morneau 's two-run single with the bases loaded stretched the lead to 8-4.
Danks, whose season started late because of surgery last summer on his left shoulder, fell to 0-4 in his four road starts with a 7.29 ERA. Nine of the 10 home runs he's allowed have been on the road.
"Home runs are exciting, but as long as we're putting them on the board you've got to be happy," Diamond said.
Quipped Gardenhire: "As long as they're ours being hit into the seats, that's OK."
Diamond won for only the second time in his last eight starts, with only one completion of six innings in that span. This turn, he lasted 5 1-3 innings with seven hits and four runs allowed. One of those was unearned, due to a throwing error by third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the fourth.
Reliever Jesse Crain has been one bright spot for the White Sox, at least.
The former Twins right-hander set Chicago's franchise record with his 28th consecutive scoreless appearance, passing J.J. Putz's mark from 2010. Crain, who has 37 strikeouts in 28 innings during the streak, has allowed only two runs all season, most recently on April 12.
NOTES: The six victories (out of nine) were the most on a homestand by the Twins since winning six of 12 here on from July 14-24, 2011. ... Ventura expressed encouragement about RHP Jake Peavy 's first real exercise - riding the stationary bike - since he broke a rib two weeks. Peavy is expected to miss another two to four weeks. ... Twins CF Aaron Hicks (strained left hamstring) is on track to begin a rehab assignment next week. Backup OF Wilkin Ramirez (post-concussion symptoms) started one on Thursday with Class A Fort Myers. ... The Twins play three games at Cleveland beginning on Friday. RHP Samuel Deduno (3-1, 3.26 ERA) will pitch the opener, with LHP Scott Kazmir (3-4, 5.89 ERA) starting for the Indians. ... The White Sox start a three-game series in Kansas City on Friday by sending LHP Hector Santiago (2-5, 3.30 ERA) to the mound at Kauffman Stadium. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.72 ERA) will pitch for the Royals.