CHICAGO (MCT) — After spending 63 straight days in first place — from July 24 until Tuesday — the White Sox are one game away from being eliminated altogether.
Now the only way they can play in postseason is to win four straight games, while the Tigers lose four straight games — and that includes a one-game playoff for the AL Central Division championship.
The tragic number for the Sox — after Sunday’s 6-2 loss to David Price and the Rays, coupled with a Tigers victory against the Twins — is one.
The end could come as soon as Monday night, if the Sox lose in Cleveland or the Tigers win in Kansas City.
But the Sox have themselves to blame for what can only be described as a collapse: They have lost 10 of their last 12 games.
It’s frustrating for a team that was in first place for 117 total days this season.
“Scale of 1-10? It’s obviously a 12,” said Adam Dunn, who has one hit since a game-winning homer last Monday. “We played so well for so long and had ourselves in a great position.
“One of the things that got us here was doing the little things, hitting guys in, things like that. But when it came down to it late in the year, we couldn’t do it.”
White Sox batters have compiled just a .221 average over the last 13 games and are hitting .164 against left-handers in the last 16 days, including Sunday, when they managed only five hits off Price.
Asked about the spate of setbacks, manager Robin Ventura said:
“You’d like to get a hit with guys on. The big hit hasn’t really been there. ... When we do score you kind of let them back in the game. There’s a lot of things that go into a stretch like this.”
The recent stats erase almost all of what happened earlier in the season when the Sox were one of baseball’s surprises.
“There’s a certain peace that comes with knowing you went out and went at it the right way, the same way all year,” captain Paul Konerko said. “It’s frustrating when you don’t get the results you want, wins-wise.
“When you are winning a bunch of games in May or June, you don’t sit around and say, ‘Why us?’ then. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you as a player or as a team. You just go out and keep grinding.”
But the grind went out of the Sox days ago and on Sunday, they were behind 2-0 after the first two Rays batters as B.J. Upton hit the first of his two homers.
Rookie Jose Quintana (6-6) was the loser and admitted afterward he could be tired, “but not to the point where it was going to stop me from doing what I needed to do.”
On Monday another rookie, Hector Santiago, starts against the Indians. He began the season as the closer, and now the Sox’s chances of playing well into October will be closed if he loses.