OAKLAND, Calif. –- Not that the White Sox were still clinging to hope, but if anybody had any left it was erased Tuesday.
When the White Sox lost to the Oakland A’s, their eighth consecutive defeat, they were officially eliminated from the AL Central chase, leaving the Minnesota Twins to celebrate the division title.
The White Sox wasted little time flushing it all down the toilet. When the Twins rolled into Chicago last week, the Sox needed a sweep to realistically keep their chances alive. They were swept instead, and haven’t won a game since.
Paul Konerko says the White Sox didn’t quit on the season once they started losing to the Twins but acknowledged that it doesn’t look good.
“I would say the second loss [to the Twins] probably was more crushing because we felt that if we took two out of three in that series we would have been five back and there still would have been some time to move there with the amount of games left at that point,” Konerko said Tuesday. “The first game was tough because we were winning later in the game and didn’t come up with it. But I thought after the second one it was more deflating or really the last dagger.
“But guys have been good, guys have been professional. But it has been a combination of teams playing pretty good against us and yeah, a little bit down just because when you go so hard for so long thinking you will win the division and find out it’s not going to happen, it is a little bit of a downer. We’re all human beings here and that happens.”
The substitute lineup has been in for a while now, so it isn’t like the White Sox didn’t see this day coming soon. It was just alarming how fast it did arrive.
The White Sox have lost eight straight for the first time since August of 2007.
Making it even odder was that the White Sox had just won seven consecutive games on their last road trip. But that’s the kind of season it’s been.
The White Sox were terrible in the first half, overachieved in June and into July then couldn’t keep a .500 pace in the second half, while still putting together winning and losing streaks.
“That has been our team: very high, very low,” Konerko said. “There was a time this year where we were winning games so easy and everything was coming so easy and then we had times early where we couldn’t get a win of it was the last thing on Earth we had to do. But I think the way to sum it up is that this team, maybe its downfall is that it was just a little too high, a little bit too low.”
Clearly annoyed by the uninspiring brand of baseball on the field, manager Ozzie Guillen doesn’t feel the need to rip the team publicly. He tried that earlier in the second half only to take it back a day later, essentially saying that he didn’t have a problem with the effort just the result.
It seems as if he feels that way now.
“I don’t care if you have 10 games left or 20 games left, losing is not fun,” Guillen said. “It’s not fun for me and I know it’s not fun for those guys either. I’m not saying they’re not trying but it starts getting old and hopefully we turn this thing around and we have more fun in the field. It’s not fun coming here they way it is.”
As for how the team is finishing the season, Guillen insists the players haven’t quit.
“No, they don’t,” Guillen said. “If they quit I will kick their [rear end]. If they quit they won’t play for me. They didn’t quit. We’re just facing a good pitching ballclub and right now offensively we’re not getting anything going. Pitching we’re not getting anything going.”
Speculation is the Twins will now play their backups for a few days to give the starters a rest, but Mark Buehrle doesn’t expect the victories to stop in Minnesota.
“They have that good of a team where they can sit all nine of their starters and put another nine guys in there and still win the game,” said Buehrle (12-12), who gave up five runs on 11 hits in six innings to the A’s Tuesday and took the loss. “It seems like every time a guy goes down with an injury or they rest a guy it seems like somebody else steps in and does a good job for them.”
By the numbers
59: Stolen bases for Juan Pierre after he swiped second in the sixth inning. That tied him with Scott Podsednik’s 2005 total for second place on the team’s all-time single-season list. It was also the 519th steal in Pierre’s career tying him with Patsy Donovan for 30th on the all-time list.
“I made what, 25 starts or something like that. For me I had to prove I can pitch every five days. At least I did it for five starts. The shoulder is fine and that’s all I need.” –- Freddy Garcia, on his showing this season in a contract year. If he feels fine from a bullpen session Tuesday he will start Friday against the Angels.
White Sox right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-2, 3.25 ERA) will make his ninth start for his new team during Wednesday afternoon’s game. A’s left-hander Brett Anderson (6-6, 2.83) has won each of his last three starts and has a 1.94 ERA over that stretch.