CHICAGO -- It was Paul Konerko who said that at some point the White Sox would get on a run and make things interesting.
That never really came to fruition, although the White Sox did win nine of 11 games shortly after they were pushed around by the New York Yankees at home at the beginning of August.
Konerko’s point was that everybody, even the bad teams, goes on runs, and the White Sox were merely working toward theirs.
“These division things usually come down to a week in September where one team just kind of distances themselves from the others,” Konerko said. “That was [the Tigers]. As a player, you know when you go out there and you battle and you give it 100 percent and you just get beat, you tip your hat to them.”
The White Sox didn’t just get beat, they got destroyed by what now looks to be the hottest team in the American League when they were swept in Detroit over the weekend. You better believe the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers have taken notice of a team with Miguel Cabrera leading the offense and Justin Verlander guiding the pitching staff.
“[They have] a lot of confidence,” manager Ozzie Guillen said about the Tigers. “They have professional, very good hitter [in Cabrera]. I think the key right now to Detroit was, I might be wrong, the leadoff hitter [Austin Jackson.] He is swinging the bat very good. When this kid swing the bat, you got the big monsters in the middle of the lineup.
“That team got better. They have better defense in the outfield now. They just got hot at the right time too.”
That hot streak Konerko talked about earlier this season is what the Tigers are on now, and they have used it to take control of the division.
“I think we are paying for the circumstance of not scoring from third base with less than two outs,” Guillen said. “We have men on second and third and we only score two runs. We never have the big blowout where we score six or seven in one inning. I don’t remember having that lately.”
Clutch hitting was a huge problem for the White Sox in the first half, especially early in the season. It improved a little bit in the second half, but returned with a vengeance Wednesday night at Minnesota, although the White Sox nearly came back to tie that game.
“We score two and have two men on base and then comes the ground ball double play,” Guillen said. “We score two. When you are getting over the hump, you score two and have two more on base, you bring those guys in. We have been pretty bad about that all season long.”
Guillen spared Dunn, Rios and the like from more criticism.
“It’s not about one guy,” he said of the inconsistency. “I think everybody as a team, most of the games we lose or win is by one or two runs. I don’t know how many games they score more than 10 or more than 5. How many games we win like that, by that much? Most of the games we play very close games.”
It was a season when the White Sox played exactly to the level of their competition, until they couldn’t do it anymore as the Tigers got red hot. It explains their practically dead-even record of 71-70 heading into play Thursday and their 26-28 mark in the AL Central.
“You’re definitely disappointed by it, but I know we have some games left,” Konerko said. “I don’t know how many we’re back, I know we’re not mathematically out of it yet, but it’s kind of a tip your hat situation. That’s the way I look at it.
“All year in the division it was what team is going to come together best in the last month and so far it was [the Tigers].”