Free from the pressure of trying to continue one of the hottest streaks in team history and no longer able to beat up on the lesser National League, the Royals were supposed to provide a soft cushion for the White Sox return to American League play. The Royals sent some guy named Anthony Lerew to the mound, which should have further softened the shock of going back to playing real baseball teams. But Lerew shut the Sox down, which shouldn't be a surprise, really, considering the offense was hardly the driving force of the hot streak.
I think the general reaction to the end of the streak was something like: That was a fun ride. We're right back in this thing. Time to get serious about the holes in this lineup. Of course, Ozzie sees things differently. Asked what changes/additions need to be made to his club on Sunday, Guillen replied:
"Nothing. When I talked to Kenny earlier in the Winter Meetings and earlier in White Sox fest, I always liked this ballclub. I don't know why, but I did. I like the ballclub sometimes, and I don't like the players. I like what we have. When we was bad I looked at the lineup, and I showed the beat writers the lineups. We don't need anything. I hope we just continue to play [well]."
Ozzie likes the club because it's a National League lineup; no designated hitter and about 7 bench bats (too many of which not only find their way into the lineup every game, but find themselves in the 1 & 2 spots.)
The streak was nice. It's certainly more fun to watch (and write about) winning baseball than the other option. But the Sox need to acknowledge what happened before the hot streak. There's a reason that winning 15 of 16 games doesn't put you in first place, and it doesn't really have to do with the competition. It's that the Sox were poor enough to almost -- almost -- play themselves right out of any chance over the season's first two months.
They were literally one loss away from me firing up my Blow It Up post. They're still the same team; Carlos Quentin has finally joined them, as well as Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd. But they still don't have a DH, 3B or 2B they can count on and are still looking up at two teams -- two teams who aren't without flaws themselves, but two teams who are ahead of them, have been all year, and figure to try to make themselves better as the trade deadline approaches.
It's not time for back-patting over a nice comeback, both in the division race or the last two games which saw 9th inning go-ahead runs at the plate. It's time to get serious about actually contending in the American League Central, and that means we need some new blood in the lineup.