As June comes to a close, so does the most favorable stretch of the White Sox's season. Everything lined up for a surge during these last 27 games, 17 of which featured opponents under .500, and another four against a team the Sox had to leap-frog in order to put a scare into Detroit.
This resume-padding respite was supposed to wake up the Sox. Problem is, the only thing they can hit on a consistent basis is the snooze button.
After suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, the Sox finished the easiest month of their season with an 8-19 record. That obliterates any benefit of the doubt, and the Sox are henceforth the really awful team that other bad teams are supposed to beat.
How bad is 8-19? Well, for starters, it's the first eight-win month for the Sox since April of 2001. Then you rope in winning percentage, and you have to go even further back to find a month this feckless.
An 8-19 record is good for a .296 winning percentage, and the last time the Sox finished a month with a sub-.300 record over a comparable number of games was June of 1987, when Jim Fregosi's club went 7-21 (.250).
But here's the dumbest thing about the worst month in 26 years -- some big things went so very right, such as:
No. 1: Chris Sale
Here's what Sale did in June:
- Six starts
- 42⅓ innings
- 53 strikeouts
- Nine walks
- 1.02 WHIP
- .215 BAA
- 3.19 ERA
- Zero wins
And it's not just that Sale couldn't win a game in June -- the Sox only won one of his five starts. That kind of stuff happens when the Sox average 2.17 runs when Sale pitches, and also when they pull stunts like this:
No. 2: Adam Dunn
Over his 2½-year career on the South Side, Dunn's disappearances often drive the Sox's flat-play periods.
The opposite is true this June. Dunn had a fantastic month, hitting .274/.402/.589. That .991 OPS is a new monthly best for Dunn since joining the Sox. Better yet, he drew 21 walks to just 26 strikeouts over 118 plate appearances, which means it's also the most complete month Dunn has posted in a White Sox uniform. He looks like a real middle-of-the-order hitter, and not just a guy who can push the boundaries of isolated power's value.
And yet the Sox have never been worse in the franchise's modern era.
No. 3: Scoring
The Sox managed to take five steps backward as a team while taking a step forward with their offense:
- April: 3.56 runs per game
May: 3.48 runs per game
- June: 4.26 runs per game
The doubleheader against Cleveland pretty much sums up the Sox's problems in this respect. They took advantage of a shaky Indians starting combo of Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, scoring 18 runs over those two games like a real professional offense.
And yet despite matching their best single-game output in the opener, the Sox are 1-1 when scoring 10 runs this season. The rest of the league is 37-1 in such occasions.
It'd be a whole lot easier to explain 8-19 if Sale hit a dead-arm period, Dunn continued swinging through everything, and the offense joined him. Instead, these bursts of their best can't escape the suction of the worst around them, and that's why the Sox can't have nice things.