Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010
Updated 1:48 AM
By Brett Ballantini
OAKLAND Before Tuesdays tilt vs. the Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen dismissed the notion that he should be embarrassed by how his team has been playing during an abominable stretch run, remaining defiant.
No, (Monday) night we were flat, he said. Besides that, weve played hard.
In spite of counsel advising the skipper to reconsider his answer, hes sticking to it.
If they quit, I will kick their (expletive). If they quit, they wont play for me, Guillen insisted postgame. Offensively, right now, were not getting anything going. Pitching, were not getting anything going. I dont think we have any quitters. We just havent played that well.
Indeed it was another flat performance by the White Soxa 7-2 loss to the Asthat yoked Chicago with a season-high, eight-game losing streak. It was no squeaker, either, as it took the rude hosts all of four innings to jump ahead 5-0. Coupled with the offensive eruption was another lights-out game by Oaklands Trevor Cahill, who handcuffed the White Sox for eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits, striking out seven. Cahill became the first Oakland pitcher in six years to win 17 games.
Oakland pummeled Chicago starter Mark Buehrle with 11 hits and five earned runs over his six innings. The relatively short outing by the veteran lefty means hell need one more appearance, of at least 1 23 innings, to stretch his streak of seasons with at least 10 wins, 200 innings and 30 starts to an MLB-best 10 straight seasons.
I dont like losing, Buehrle said. This was one of those games you cant catch a break. They were putting balls in play, finding holesI felt like I was pitching pretty decent, my fielders were diving all over the place making good plays, but it was just one of those days.
Oaklands got a good pitching staff, and the last couple guys we faced were pretty good. We attacked them today, but Buehrle got hit, Guillen said.
The big blow came with one out in the fourth, when ninth-place hitter Cliff Pennington crushed a double over left fielder Juan Pierres head, doubling Oaklands lead to 4-0. As catcher Kurt Suzuki had plated the first two As runs of the night with RBIs in the first and third innings.
The White Sox fought back, in a manner of speaking, with run-scoring groundouts, beginning in the fifth, courtesy of Brent Morel, who drove in Alexei Ramirez. One inning later, Manny Ramirez trumped the rooks raking by plating Pierre on a double-play grounder.
The fuse of a ninth-inning rally was lit by Mark Kotsay and Alexei Ramirez, capping off 2-for-4 nights with a single and a double, respectively. As manager Bob Geren yanked reliever Henry Rodriguez after his ineffective outing, calling on Craig Breslow to extinguish the fire. Breslow walked pinch-hitter Andruw Jones, packing the sacks with just one out, but Morel struck out and a groundout by pinch-hitter Paul Konerko ended the game. Oakland hasnt lost any of the 68 games this season it has led heading into the ninth.
This loss, coupled with another Minnesota win, clinched the A.L. Central for the Twins. The White Sox remain in A.L. wild card contention, at least for one more day.
I know were playing hard and trying hard, doing everything we could to finish strong, but we didnt get it done, Guillen offered as a postmortem on both game and season.
We brought ourselves back into contention and gave ourselves a chance, Buehrle said. But these past couple of weeks, we havent played well enough to deserve to be in the race.
It seems the 2010 White Sox earned Guillens eternal and unyielding respect for bouncing back strong in June, when the "Gone Fishing" sign could have been hung. But if this September swoon persists, its in the managers best interest to investigate. His Chisox went from world beaters to world-beaten at a frightening velocity, and without digging up some answers, 2011 will be a repeat, in all the wrong ways.
If nothing else, Tuesday outlined the perils of looking the other way.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.