Sox's intra-division struggles continue

CHICAGO -- The White Sox haven’t finished with a winning record in the AL Central since 2008, when they went 44-29 and captured the division title.

While they’re not even a quarter of the way through this season, Chicago is 9-9 in the division as it approaches the end of a stretch of 15 straight games against Central foes. The Sox have gone 5-8 during this stretch as the Tigers come to town for two games starting tomorrow.

The Sox won’t have such an opportunity to make consistent waves in the division until the end of the season, when they play 19 straight division games from the final day of August through the second to last week of September. When you consider that the Sox are just 2 1/2 games out of first place and the Tigers have yet to take off, as many projected, this 15-game stretch has been nothing short of a disappointment.

“Unfortunately we put ourselves in a spot where we play three, four, five games bad in a row but we seem to respond well when we do that,” first baseman Paul Konerko said. “Obviously we wish we didn’t do that as much but we seem to be able to cut a bad game or a bad series away pretty quick. We’ve done that pretty well this year so far. We’ll have to do that again here, bounce back and get after it tomorrow night.”

The Sox wasted a quality performance by Phillip Humber in Sunday’s 9-1 loss and mustered a season-low three hits in Saturday’s 3-0 loss. Prior to Saturday, the Sox won three straight by a combined score of 18-4. In the past two games alone the Sox have left 16 runners on base, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and striking out 17 times. The Sox are 0-5-1 in their last six series.

“Offensively we have to pick it up,” Manager Robin Ventura said. “We have been leaving a guys on base. We had opportunities today. We have guys who are swinging it okay, but it’s just not coming through. You continue to grind. I know they are working, so just go at it....So, we are going to continue to grind and it’s going to turn around.”