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AL Central: The Hitless Wonders
When there's as much media competition as there is in the Chicago market, it's not uncommon for baseball beat reporters to find a unique angle to set their story apart. So when the Tribune, Sun-Times and Daily Herald all key in on the White Sox hitting woes on the same day, well, that's telling you how bad things are on the South Side.
I guess an 11-1 loss to the Royals will do that to you.
The Sox mustered only three hits, and it wasn't even at the hands of the estimable Gil Meche, who threw seven scoreless innings last night in Oakland to lower his ERA to 1.91. Don't forget, the Fungoes have been on the Meche bandwagon since Opening Day. Even with Jon Heyman on board, there's still plenty of room.
In no small part because of that decisive defeat, the White Sox have scored fewer runs (131) than any American League team including, yes, the lowly Royals (149), prompting manager Ozzie Guillen to tell reporters, "Without throwing anyone under the bus, it's time to get better at-bats. It's a shame, and it's a little embarrassing."
Wait, did the ever-quotable Guillen say he won't throw anyone under the bus??? Maybe that's an even better example of how bad things are for the Sox sluggers -- their manager isn't his normal flippant self and seems genuinely concerned. I would be, too, if my team was batting .220, with a sub-.300 on-base percentage, a paltry 82 extra-base hits and an incomprehensibly low .659 OPS.
Of course, it should be noted that Rob Mackowiak threw himself under the bus over the weekend. Referring to his .188 batting average, lowest among regular players, he said, "It's very frustrating. You don't like yourself very much."
Still, Chicago has somehow managed a winning record of 18-16 despite scoring just 3.9 runs per game. That's obviously because of the pitching staff. Jose Contreras, Mark Buerhle, Jon Garland and Javier Vazquez all sport ERAs under 4.00, with fifth starter Jon Danks not too far behind at 4.33. Haven't we seen this before? Two years ago, with Freddy Garcia in place of Vazquez, the Sox rode their starting pitchers to a World Series championship. Toss in reliable closer Bobby Jenks and the suddenly dominant setup man David Aardsma (1.31 ERA and 26 K in 20.2 IP), and the Sox have a staff that'll keep them in every game.
The reinforcements are coming: Jim Thome is rehabbing in Triple-A and Scott Podsednik claims he's "getting close." In the meantime, the questions du jour: Are Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Joe Crede and Tadahito Iguchi getting close to hitting above .210? Or is GM Kenny Williams getting close to finding help elsewhere? That pitching staff deserves better.
Chicago has won six of its past eight, taking series from the Angels, Twins and Royals, but the team never scored more than six runs in that stretch and never allowed more than four runs in any of those wins. Excuse their two lopsided losses -- to the Royals on Sunday and 12-5 to the Indians on Opening Day -- and the Sox have yielded only 119 runs in their other 32 games. That's 3.7 runs allowed per game, which is both exceptional and necessary when, to repeat myself, they're only scoring 3.9 runs per game.
I have no doubt that the Sox lineup will come around, and tonight might be a good time to start with the potent Yankees offense in town for a three-game home set.
Labels: AL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
A-Rod isn't exactly lighting the world on fire at the moment. It seems like he's cooled off after a torrid April.
The White Sox and the Cubs should merge teams. Between them, I think they have one fully functional pitching staff (The White Sox, mostly) and one fully functional batting order (mainly made up of Derrick Lee and whoever else can hit over .250)
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