The White Sox are homerless in their last 28 innings. Not coincidently, they've scored in just 2 of those 28 innings.
For the 5th straight night, the White Sox got a quality start from their starter -- This time it was Mark Buehrle who weathered a shaky first inning to pitch 7 relatively effective innings -- and for the second time in the last three games, the offense and bullpen let the Sox down.
The Sox only managed a real scoring threat in two innings, the 5th and 9th innings. In the 5th, the Ervin Santana got a little wild -- maybe getting squeezed a little by the ump -- and the Sox pushed across 3 runs with a flurry of singles. They let him off the hook, however, when Scott Podsednik inexplicably half-assed his way to third base trying to steal with 1-out. He actually slowed down half way to the back, and slid like he was afraid to get his uniform dirty. Two pitches later, Jermaine Dye flew out to RF to end the threat.
In the 9th, Francisco Rodriguez, who hasn't allowed a run to score since June 26th, a span of 29 outings, was a little wild. He walked Paul Konerko with 1 out, and pinch runner Jerry Owens advanced to third on Pierzynski's single. Rodriguez got Joe Crede to strike out when almost any contact scores Owens from 3rd, and Rob Mackowiak to ground a Podsednik Special down to second to end the inning.
Bobby Jenks entered with 1 out in the 10th, and promptly induced a double play. I wasn't really able to get a feel for how he was pitching in that inning because he tossed a wild one with his first pitch, that led to him intentionally walking Vlad Guerrero. The double play came on the next pitch. In the 11th, however, it was immediately evident that Bobby had nothing. His control was nonexistent, and he was topping out at 93-94MPH. His usual 91MPH slider was more like 87-88.
Garrett Anderson and Chone Figgins provided the two hits that the Angels needed as Bobby allowed a run for the 4th consecutive outing. After those first two outings, I said that I wanted to see him pitch effectively in some lower leverage innings before he got a chance to close again, BUT...
The conspicuous absence of Mike MacDougal the last three games, all 1-run affairs into the late innings, leads me to believe that the only completely healthy and consistently effective reliever left in the pen is Matt Thornton, who pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings. Boy, how wrong was I about that acquisition?
The Sox are now 2.5 games behind the wild card, the farthest they've been behind all year, and 4 behind the AL Central leading Tigers with just 17 games to play. There was a reason I wanted the Sox to have a 2-game working margin on the Twins when they headed out to the west coast. I just didn't expect the starting pitching to be the only bright spot as the season came to a close.
I think the Sox playoff hopes came to a close with Bobby's 92MPH fastball roped into center field just after the clock struck midnight and the calendar changed to Wednesday.