CHICAGO -- The sky isn’t falling just yet, but it could be by the end of the week.
Looking for any kind of momentum they could muster before a showdown series with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, the White Sox fell flat on their collective faces in a 13-8 defeat to the Tigers. In losing two of three to those previously fading Tigers, the White Sox continue to expose one flaw after another.
Defiantly saying last week that if people doubt him that’s their problem and that he’s always proved people wrong, veteran Freddy Garcia was roughed up again.
Thinking he had enough in the bullpen to handle the late innings, manager Ozzie Guillen watched J.J. Putz crumble against another left-handed batter Sunday. Putz gave up Johnny Damon’s two-out, two-run go-ahead triple in the eighth inning a day after giving up Alex Avila’s game-winning home run.
Playing some of the best team defense in the league after the first two months, center fielder Andruw Jones got turned around on one drive [Damon’s] and dropped another as the Tigers rallied to go ahead in the eighth inning.
The on-again, off-again offense erupted in the middle innings to give the White Sox the lead heading into the eighth, but seven Tigers runs over the final two innings were not to be overcome.
That all this happened at home, where the White Sox had previously been untouchable was, perhaps, the most excruciating of it all for a club that worked so hard to get back in contention.
“I’ll be honest with you, the ballclub didn’t have energy today,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “How many runs did we score, 10 runs, nine, eight? I don’t see any energy today in the ballclub. I hope it was me.”
Maybe Guillen was part of the energy drain. When pitching coach Don Cooper got ejected for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout in the seventh inning neither he nor Guillen confronted home-plate Jeff Nelson about it.
“Cooper’s very bad at arguments,” Guillen said. “Because when you’re going to lose $500, you better make it worth it. That’s all I can say. He was arguing strikes and balls. When the umpire throws you out and you disappear from the dugout, you’re a chicken. You’ve got to go out there and watch your money. The fine’s going to be the same whether you go out or you go in. Make it worth it. … That’s what I do.”
Could the White Sox somehow have lost their passion? Perhaps the Twins took it out of them last week.
Over their last three series, the White Sox lost three of four to the Orioles, two of three at home to the Twins and two of three at home to the Tigers. Now comes the Twins again and on their turf no less.
“[The Twins] are e a good team but there are some things we can do better right now that has nothing to do with the team we are playing or anything anybody is doing against us,” said Paul Konerko, who had two hits including a two run home run, his 29th. “… When we were winning a lot of games, we didn’t really try to get a win every day, we were concentrating on playing the game the right way and in each inning, each situation just trying to be good and it just added up to a win. We’ll just try to get back to that. If we do that we’ll get back to where we were.”
Maybe if the White Sox decision-makers trusted their instincts and put Bobby Jenks on the disabled list at the start of the Tigers series with a strained back, they wouldn’t have been left so shorthanded in the bullpen Sunday. Putz worked his third consecutive day, the first time he has done that since July 28-20, 2007.
Left-hander Matt Thornton wasn’t used, but he would have also been working on his third consecutive day if he pitched.
“To me, [this was] a very bad homestand … terrible,” Guillen said. “They can say whatever they say, do whatever they do, it was very bad. [It was] very bad pitching. When we pitch well, we’re not hitting. That makes the combination, a very poor homestand.
“We’ve got to prepare better for the next road trip and play better, there’s no doubt. Those games coming up, they’re very important. We’ve got to go up there and perform better. If we want to win this thing, we’ve got to play better.”
By the numbers
5: Consecutive appearances that reliever Tony Pena has been scored upon after giving up four runs in the ninth inning Sunday. In addition to that, Putz blew back-to-back save opportunities for the first time since blowing four consecutive in the 2008 season. Sergio Santos gave up a home run to Miguel Cabrera, ending his scoreless appearance streak at 11.
“It has been tough the last two weeks. We went out to Detroit and we went to Baltimore and it was tough. The series in Baltimore was a four game series and it was frustrating because we didn’t play the way we wanted to play. We got home and we kept dragging our feet.” –Jones, on the team’s lack of energy Sunday.
The White Sox will get a day off Monday before returning to action Tuesday for the opener of a three-game series with the Twins. The series will feature three consecutive marquee pitching matchups.
Left-hander John Danks (12-8, 3.19 ERA) will pitch in the series opener for the White Sox against Twins right-hander Scott Baker (10-9, 4.76. In Game 2 on Wednesday, White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd (8-9, 3.70 ERA) will face left-hander Francisco Liriano (11-7, 3.26). And in the series finale Thursday, White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle (11-9, 4.05) will face right-hander Carl Pavano (15-7, 3.27)