The White Sox haven’t tried to sugarcoat the fact that they’ve stunk.
Players, coaches and the front office expected far more than has been produced through the team’s first 80 games. The defense has been one of the worst in the majors and the offense continues to produce at dismal levels, averaging 3.44 runs per contest.
But it could be much worse than 37-43 were it not for a pitching staff that has a 3.33 ERA over the past 18 games and has been the most consistent facet this season. Though the White Sox team 4.05 ERA ranks 22ndoverall in the majors, it’s 3.67 Fielding Independent Pitching is 10th among 30 teams.
“I can't imagine what our record would be if those guys were scuffling along with us offensively,” veteran Adam LaRoche said. “They've no doubt done their part. It's about time we picked them up once in a while.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Somehow -- can you say American League parity? -- the White Sox are within a reasonable hot streak of wild-card contention despite their inability to consistently score.
Even though they have produced four or fewer runs in a franchise-record 23 straight home games, the White Sox started Tuesday 5 1/2 games out in the wild-card standings. It doesn’t mean they’ll find a way to leapfrog the nine teams ahead of them, but the White Sox remain hopeful their offense finally gets going and they can rebound.
Manager Robin Ventura likes some of the recent signs he has seen, especially from Melky Cabrera, who has a .348/.392/.522 slash line with 11 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in 102 plate appearances over the last 25 games. With Cabrera hitting well behind Jose Abreu, who has a .310/.333/.552 slash line in seven games in the second spot, and Adam Eaton having rebounded as well, the White Sox are hopeful for a trickle-down theory to the rest of the offense. After all, the White Sox are 27-9 this season when they score at least four runs.
“Early on we struggled in the first two spots in the order, those guys are picking it up,” Ventura said. “We moved Jose there, Melky is swinging it better, even from the left side he’s swinging it. Eaton getting on base so there is a different element there that you like offensively the trend that’s going there. But you still have to be able to score some crooked numbers to win. We’re relying on these pitchers to win 1-0, 2-1 and you need to give them a little relief aswell because they’re doing their job.”
LaRoche is up front about the team’s struggles -- “it’s been disappointing,” he said. But given that the White Sox aren’t a Titanic-like disaster because of their pitching, LaRoche has hope the offense can come around.
“I don't think anybody expected it to take this long, and we're still not there yet,” LaRoche said. “We're still working some kinks out.
“But again, we've got some baseball left. Hopefully we can make a run. Start with one run at a time.”