Up until this week the Sox had lost five straight series, four of which came against National League opponents. You have to go all the way back to the June 3 win versus the Mariners to find the South Siders last series victory prior to taking 2 of 3 from the Minnesota Twins.
The reason for the clubs recent slide is simple: inconsistent run production.
In April the White Sox scored 3.86 runs per game (21st in the MLB), in May they scored 5.38 runs per game (3rd), and in June 4.33 (17th). The constant ebb and flow of run production has caused Robin Venturas club to be labeled as streaky and streaky teams seldom capture long term success.
Surprisingly, the one thing that has remained relatively consistent for the Sox has been their pitching. Coming off of his second consecutive loss allowing two runs or less Jake Peavy appeared frustrated during post-game interviews.
We just have to find a way to swing these one-run games in our favor and we will, said Peavy after his five hit complete game loss against the Cubs last Tuesday. I dont think by any means this team has lost any confidence, we have shown we can play with anybody on any given day, the bottom line is weve just kind of been too streaky.
During the five series skid the Sox offense experienced a low point of their streakiness. They averaged four runs per game over the 18-game stretch, but this number was heavily weighted by a couple of seven plus run explosions by the Sox offense. It seems as if on some days everyone brings their bats to the park and on others no one does. In five of their last 18 the Sox tallied one run or less. This should be an alarming statistic for a team that is still in first place and in desperate need of consistent run support.
It is only June, but coming off five consecutive unsuccessful series the Sox found themselves at a crossroads. Kenny Williams had two options: blow the thing up and start from square one by dealing Peavy, Pierzynski and others, or fill a couple of gaping holes on the roster and make this team a serious contender.
The first watershed moment came Sunday when news broke of the acquisition of long time Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis. This move accomplishes a number of things. It fills an obvious void at third that Orlando Hudson could not. It adds another experienced veteran to the clubhouse. It adds a bat to the lineup that guarantees you an above average on base percentage. But most off all it sends a message to White Sox fans and the rest of the league that this team is all in, no questions asked.
In terms of wanting and needing a little bit more stability at the position, as well as providing a little bit of offense in the form that Kevin Youkilis can provide it. Another on base percentage guy, another guy that is not afraid to get a big hit, we just felt at this time it was necessary, said Williams at a press conference Sunday after the acquisition.
Dont get me wrong, the Sox did not just pick up Mickey Mantle reincarnate but this is a vital piece of the puzzle if this team plans on making a run deep into the playoffs this season. As Kenny said, Youkilis is an OBP guy (.388 career) who will grind out at bats and manufacture runs. Something a free-swinging inconsistent offense could find very valuable in leveling out their production.
The Youk has had an ok year thus far, (.225 avg, .311 OBP, 4 HR, 13 RBIs), but I think a change of Sox is all the three time all-star needs to jump start his production. Youkilis is used to playing on a Red Sox team that is always at the top of the division or at least in contention. The Red Sox sit 5.5 games back and have shown few signs of life this season. A change of scenery to a team leading their division could be exactly what Youkilis and the Sox both need.
When asked about his teams streaky tendencies Robin Ventura made it clear how he feels saying, Were gonna get hot again, that must be the way its gonna go.The White Sox skipper might be on to something as the south siders have won five of their last seven games. None in more impressive fashion, than the 12-5 shellacking of the Twins yesterday. The Sox pounded 21 hits off of Minnesota pitching and appear to be back to form, at least for the time being.
The Sox are catching their upswing at the perfect time as they head to New York for a four game set versus the league best Yankees. If things continue at this streaky pace buckle up Sox fans because the second half could be a roller coaster ride.
Joe Musso contributed to this article.