With the Tigers either calling it a day or waiting to turn around and make a very major move, and with the Sox suddenly a mere half-game up on the Twins, it stands to reason we have exactly one way to look at the standings and the increasingly poor showings by the Good Guys:
THIS IS ONLY THE NATURAL COURSE OF THINGS.
This year’s White Sox were never supposed to be that good, and for all intents and purposes maybe they never were. Think of any winning stretch this year, and what will you find? A string of outstanding pitching performances and one guy swinging the hot bat. In April it was A.J. Pierzynski; then Carlos Quentin in May; then Alexei Ramirez in June; and Jermaine Dye to close out July. Other than that? Come on.
Nick Swisher, South Side man-crushes aside, has always been a low- to mid-.200’s hitter. Jim Thome’s decline with age and Joe Crede’s decline with back problems have been known quantities since 2006. Paul Konerko has always been more freight train than catalyst. Brian Anderson will always be relegated to a bench role.
The Sox went into the season with a reluctant leadoff man, and four months later they still have a reluctant leadoff man. They built a team long on power but short on craftiness, and it looks like they’ll stick with that formula. They can win (sort of), but never convincingly and never against anyone worth beating. Clutch hitting remains elusive, and the bullpen is getting shakier by the minute.
None of these are new developments. Not a one.
Cleveland has conceded and now the Tigers probably have as well, meaning we’re down to a two-team race. South Side optimists will say the Twins can’t possibly keep pulling off their statistical miracles, and they’re probably right. The problem is that the Sox most assuredly can stay unable to beat good teams at their own game.
Yes, the Hawks and DJs of the world will say the only thing that counts is winning (in fact, they just did), but we all know how far late-July air strikes get you. Hawk just followed that up by advising us to “Never count these Twins out.” You got that right, partner.