Blame the bullpen. Alright. But nobody's perfect.
Blame Ozzie. Miss the mark. He he made the right move. The players failed.
Blame the offense. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
The White Sox have dropped their last 7 road games. 4 of those games came on walk-off HR. All told, the Sox have thrown a total of 22 pitches in walk-off situations over those 7 games. 4 have gone over the wall. 4 HR in 22 high-leverage pitches is absurd, especially when you take a look at the bullpen's stats as a whole.
Meanwhile, the offense batted just .234/.283/.320 in the first 6 of those games. (Baseball Musings updates their DB in the morning. Click the previous link and alter the endpoint to get the proper 7 game total). They've gone just 7-for-53 with one extra-base hit with Runners in Scoring Position over that span (full 7 games -- I did the math), slugging .153 in their own high-leverage situations.
In other words, the Sox 7-game road losing streak has been made possible only through the teamwork of two incredibly unclutch forces. Had either the offense or bullpen been able to perform with the hanging in the balance, the Sox might be looking at a .500 or better stretch on the road.
Instead we're forced to confront the fact that the Sox appear to have the deadly combination of an explosive offense that appears above average on paper, but one that's prone to prolonged droughts especially with runners on base, and a bullpen which appears great on paper, but in practice is prone to give up game-winning bombs. It's the perfect combination to appear like a good team, one that ends up ranked #3 in BP's hit list and #5 in THT's Dartboard Factor, thanks to their phythagorean record loaded with blowouts on one night followed by close losses the next.
Pythagorean record is a nice system for judging the true talent of a team, but it's not without flaws. And we've seen enough teams on the south side that have nice pythagorean records get outperformed by "lesser" teams.
So just as many of us felt that loss coming when the Sox were unable to plate Nick Swisher after his leadoff double, which made Ozzie pull Danks after 6, which put the bullpen in early, which, well, you get the picture, I feel like these stretch of eminently winnable games -- both the 9-game stretch against sub-.500 clubs, and the overlapping 7-game road losing streak -- are a harbinger for the Sox blowing a mediocre division ripe for the taking.
Playoff teams don't have two losses in which they allowed ZERO earned runs before the All-Star break (No team has lost more than 2 in the last 10 years). Playoff teams don't have all of their complete games go for losses (Sox are 0-3 in CG). Playoff teams don't have stretches were they get walked-off 4 times in 7 road games while slugging .151 w/RISP. The Sox aren't a playoff team. They're a .500 club in a terrible division. And that terrible division is the only reason they're in first place right now.