In the last nine games the White Sox have lost seven, four of them while allowing two runs or less. For much of the year we have talked about how bad the pitching has been and rightfully so. So when the Sox do get great starts, they have to take advantage of them. Lately, the offense has failed.
6/13 vs. Cardinals: Jake Peavy fires 7 innings against one of the top offenses in baseball and only allowed a solo homer to Carlos Beltran. Alex Rios lead off the 5th inning with a triple, but Lance Lynn struck out A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez and after an intentional walk to Orlando Hudson, Jake Peavy. In the 8th, Orlando Hudson singles but Adam Dunn quickly erases him on a double play. In the 9th with Jason Motte pitching, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo each single to bring up Paul Konerko with 1st and 3rd and one out and Konerko quickly chops into the 5-4-3 double play to end the game. Result: Sox lose 1-0.
6/17 vs. Dodgers: Jose Quintana white washes the Dodgers through his 8 innings of work. The White Sox manage one run against Chris Capuano on a Dayan Viciedo single in the 6th. Addison Reed was called upon in the 9th to shut down the game, but the Dodgers scratch to tie it. In the 10th, they win it against Matt Thornton. The White Sox offense went hitless the rest of the game after Viciedo's single and only managed one base runner- Adam Dunn on a walk. Result: Sox lose 2-1.
6/19 vs. Cubs: The Sox get on the board first in the bottom of the 2nd against Travis Wood when Alexei Ramirez goes the other way with a ground rule double to score Alex Rios and move Dayan Viciedo to third. After a walk to Tyler Flowers to load the bases with one out, Orlando Hudson popped out and Alejandro De Aza struck out to end the threat. Starter Jake Peavy might have been able to make that one run lead stand up, but in the top of the 3rd, a poor throw from Hudson and an infield single to Tony Campana followed by a wild pitch put men on 2nd and 3rd for David DeJesus who delivered a single to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. At the time it didn't seem like that big of a deal, but the Sox got blanked the rest of the way by Wood, Shawn Camp, James Russel, Manuel Corpas and Carlos Marmol. Peavy also shut the Cubs down after the 3rd inning and finished with a complete game and only those two runs allowed, but it wasn't good enough. Result: Sox lose 2-1.
6/22 vs. Brewers: Chris Sale and Zach Greinke each come up aces and dominate the opponent. Sale goes 8 scoreless innings and Greinke goes 9. The game goes into extras scoreless. In the top of the 10th, Jesse Crain gives up a leadoff double to Aramis Ramirez. Nyjer Morgan (who pinch ran) took third on a ball in the dirt and scored on a Rickie Weeks single to give the Brewers the 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the 10th, Gordon Beckham leads off with a walk against closer John Axford. After an Adam Dunn strikeout, Paul Konerko grounds into a weak double play to end the game. All four White Sox baserunners on the day were erased on a double play. Result: Sox lose 1-0.
In the last nine games, the White Sox have gotten five masterful starts and have only came away with one victory, when Gavin Floyd and Co. shut out the Cubs on Wednesday night. Three of those starts were from either Jake Peavy or Chris Sale. In a year where you are praying for hail in dates that those two guys aren't starting, you have to find a way to come up with a victory in games that they dominate. Yes, in three of the four games I listed above they faced some of the finest pitchers the National League has to offer in Lance Lynn, Chris Capuano and Zach Greinke but a winning team finds a way to push a run or two across. The White Sox haven't been able to do that even when they had golden opportunities and now sit 1.5 games out of first place with the Tigers sneaking up on second.
Over the last seven games, Alexei Ramirez is hitting .412/.444/.471 and Gordon Beckham is at .300/.417/,450. A.J. Pierzynski is still hitting well at .286/.375/.500. Unfortunately, every other regular is batting .200 or less, with none of them OPS'ing above .600.
Thats how you fall out of first place even though your starters are in their best groove of the season.