Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011Posted: 8:43 p.m. Updated: 10:30 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik Box score Photo gallery
WATCH: Humber breaks down start
READ: The 13 best games of 2011
CLEVELAND Flipping through the White Sox media guide many years from now, it will appear as if Chicago fairly dominated their second-place rivals, the Cleveland Indians, in 2011. Likewise the club will grant generations of researches cause to fact-check over a White Sox team that was just significantly under .500 at home and relatively strong on the road.
Well, both of those entrenched 2011 trends reversed themselves in the finale of the two clubs season series on Thursday night, when the Wahoos flipped the script and trounced the Chisox, 11-2. The White Sox took the 2011 season series 11-7 and were 6-3 against the Indians in Cleveland.
Cleveland jumped out to a 2-0 lead with back-to-back home runs to begin the game from Kosuke Fukudome and Jason Kipnis the fourth time in Indians history the team has led a game off so.
It was weird obviously, Ive never had that happen to me, the first two batters of the game going deep, Humber said. And all of a sudden after that, I was cruising. Then I get a two-out walk, a run scores, and I dont know. I didnt feel I threw the ball as bad as the results indicated but every time they needed a hit, they got one. I dont know. Its frustrating. Its probably a good lesson for me learning to deal with adversity.
Today he made a couple of bad pitches, manager Ozzie Guillen said. He got ahead in the count and left a couple of balls up in the strike zone. It hurt him. We cannot complain about what this kid did this year. This guy, most of the time he was out there, he gave us a chance to win. He had a year nobody thought he was going to have.
The White Sox have the second-worst ERA to the Boston Red Sox in the American League in September, approaching 6.00.
Today was very tough for everyone, Guillen said. It has been tough for our pitching in September. We have been beat up pretty good this month. Its just not him, its a few guys getting beat up pretty good. Overall, we just havent pitched well.
The White Sox rallied to tie the game at two in the fifth, but that also marked the last inning of the game the Indians failed to score.
Humber had a rough outing, but it didnt have to be that way. He gave up the back-to-back jacks, but then held the Indians hitless for the next three innings. In the fifth, Cleveland tallied another two with assistance from a strange, fan-interference double high down the line by Ezequiel Carrera a ball that rope-a-doping left fielder Juan Pierre could have nabbed for a putout. Natch, Fukudome slapped a single to center to score two, and Humber eventually saw his earned run total pushed to seven in six innings when Addison Reed relieved him in the sixth and offered up a first-pitch, three-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera.
There was minor intrigue as the game waned Josh Kinney earned fractional batter defense points by, with just two outs left in this bruising series, hitting Kipnis, albeit on a bounce, and off his foot. Still, it was the boldest measure from a White Sox hurler all series long.
There were few bright spots offensively for the White Sox, but Alejandro De Aza drew three walks and scored the first run of the game for Chicago. Juan Pierre had half of the Pale Hose hits, and his 2-for-4 night set him at .319 over the past three months of the season (.285 over the full year).
The White Sox finished their road campaign at 43-38, a record that if foreseen at years beginning would have made most White Sox fans feel pretty content their ballclub was under consideration for the glittering rings come October. But their home record of 33-42 and falling sort of killed off thoughts of a six-year itch.
I dont know what it is, Humber said. Overall as a team we havent played like I thought we would play. Thats one of the results that come from it weve struggled at home. Hopefully after this year is over, we can put it behind us and get ready for the next year, because we have the talent to do what we set out to do this year. A lot of it is a matter of focus, taking an aggressive attitude into every game and not giving anything away.
I didnt know we were going to be 33-42 back home, Guillen said. Thats very important. We dont play very good at home at all, for whatever reason. On the road, we play good maybe those guys were more relaxed. I thought we would play better at home.
As for whether or not he might be facing his final games piloting the White Sox, Guillen again temporarily overlooking the fact that hes contractually obligated to manage the White Sox in 2012 wasnt overly concerned either way.
I dont want to think about it that way, Guillen reasoned. When youre managing, you come every day to the ballpark and realize that could be your last day, especially the way we played this year. But Ill come with the same approach if I come back, I come back. If not, I dont. I dont lose sleep over that whatever happens, it will be the best for the me and whoever. Come back or not, thats what God intended for me, I guess my destiny. Im counting on being back, but its a lot of things in the air. We have to get it done and see what happens.
The White Sox now sit at 76-80, not only much of a disincentive to ask Ozzie back, but a record that means the team must sweep its final homestand of the year in order to finish above .500 for the season. One player who feels fortunate to have a shot at redemption, as hes scheduled to start the last game of the season, is Humber, who in spite of Thursdays setback remains statistically the strongest starter on the Chisox staff.
I have that last day, so Id like to be driving home with a smile on my face, Humber said. But either way, its been a great year and Im definitely thankful for whats happened and the opportunities Ive had. I want to finish strong, but Im doing all I can, working hard, and I have to roll with the punches, I guess.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.