If you were wondering how the Sox would fair in the playoffs this year, well you got your answer this last home stand. The White Sox just concluded a 3-7 stand, two of those wins coming against the division leading Detroit Tigers. The only other win was against the Red Sox, but after that it was pretty abysmal, especially against the Yankees. Fortunately, (or unfortunately depending how you look at it) I got to see four games this stand and it really was an agony and ecstasy kind of experience. I saw the two wins versus the Tigers and two horrendous losses to the Yankees, including the 18-7 debacle. The eighteen run game was so boring, that my baseball spouse who is a die hard Yankee fan was willing to leave early, and he NEVER wants to leave early, even in April. It was a mercy rule from a fan’s perspective.
The first Detroit game was a great time. I got to take my son who is learning the finer art of trash talking. He needs to work on his tone because he sounds a little too angry. When the Tigers would score, and the Tiger fans around us would cheer, he would turn around and sneer, “the Sox are STILL winning.” He was getting the hang of it toward the end, and other than that he’s taking after his dad, talking to everyone, being polite, and eating too much bad food. The White Sox won, 6-3 and we even stayed for the whole game, quite a feat for the boy.
Staying all night on Monday probably explains why the boy did not want to go on Wednesday afternoon. He’s a bit of a homebody, really, and it’s kind of cute. I was on my own, which is something I haven’t had a chance to do all year and I couldn’t have picked a better game from my perspective. The radio guys talked about how boring the game was, but for my money it was perfect. John Danks pitched wonderfully and Max Schurzer was pretty good too, but thanks to the “youngster” Alejandro De Aza and his 2011 debut home run, the Sox won the game 2-1.
After that, it was pretty much downhill. The Sox did manage to beat Tim Wakefield in the opener but took a pounding 10-2 in the second game and the series finale was a typical White Sox loss for 2011. Buehrle pitched fairly well, giving up two in six innings, and left the game with the lead. The bullpen, which has been pretty solid all year, had a bit of a hiccup, giving up the lead, but the offense should take the blame, yet again. White Sox hitters left 16 men on base and struck out 13 times, while drawing only two walks. It gets to the issue of is it time for Greg Walker to go? Earlier in the month, Ozzie, after another frustrating loss, mentioned that he’s tired of the Sox hitters approach, hacking away, easily defeated by a soft-tossing pitcher, etc. Doesn’t approach fall under the purview of the hitting coach, at least to some extent? And the problem against soft-tossing pitchers has been well-documented, everyone mentions it, doesn’t that fall under preparation and readiness, which is also part of the hitting coach’s job? Honestly, at the major league level, I don’t think the hitting coach has that much influence, but in these areas shouldn’t he have some influence? Couple this with the damning comments of Adam Dunn about video not being available of a number of pitchers, and it seems like a change might not be a bad idea.
Especially when looking at the four games against the Yankees. It was like watching the varsity play the JV team. While the Yankees are mind-numbingly slow and kind of boring to watch, their approach at the plate is markedly different than the Sox, and they do something that the Sox don’t do on a consistent enough basis, win. Granted, the talent level on the Yankees is much higher than that of the Sox, as my baseball spouse pointed out that the Sox only had three players above .250 during our second game of the four game set. At no point during those games were the Sox ever really in the game, even the 18-7 game wasn’t that close. From a bad point of view, it doesn’t get much worse: no walks in four games, the first four-game sweep by the Yankees in Chicago since 1976, absolutely painful defense, pretty bad pitching, and the list could go on. It got so bad, I didn’t even want to boo Nick Swisher, and I love booing Swisher, damn Southern Ohio hick. If there was any doubt that the White Sox are a .500 or worse team, this series pretty much proved it. Against the real teams of the American League, they went 1-6, outscored 50-19, a pathetic .271 team OBP, again the list could go on. Up next a road trip to a couple of places that usually just plague the Sox, so we’ve got that to look forward to…(though I know what happens in Minnesota )