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The 2013 White Sox: Friends to all contenders

Robin Ventura and Co. have said they aren't interested in playing spoilers, and it sure looks that way

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Losing three straight against the Baltimore Orioles made a couple of headlines from Thursday much funnier than they should've been:



If you underestimated their disregard for the spoiler role before they lost three straight against the Orioles and extended a losing streak to nine games, you won't make that mistake again. After all, this is not only the second time the Sox have lost nine in a row, but both of their biggest free-falls have helped out American League hopefuls.

What's the opposite of spoiler? Trampoline?

The last time

As July turned into August, the White Sox lost 10 in a row and 14 of 15. All their losses came against the three AL Central contenders.

Here are the standings before and after the White Sox's stretch of awful baseball.

July 21 W-L GB Aug. 4 W-L GB
Detroit 53-44 -- Detroit 64-45 --
Cleveland 52-46 1.5 Cleveland 62-49 3
Kansas City 45-50 7 Kansas City 56-52 7.5

While the Indians lost ground in the division, they were able to climb a half-game ahead of Texas for the second wild card spot, thanks in part to their four-game sweep of the Sox at Progressive Field. The Royals' sweep of the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field was an early building block in their best stretch of the season. They won 17 of 20 games and went from a disappointing sub-.500 team to a fringe wild card contender.

And yet they gained no ground on the Tigers, because Detroit rattled off 16 wins in 17 games over the same time, including a 6-1 record against the Sox.

This time

The White Sox turned their attention to the AL East:

Aug. 28 W-L GB Sept. 7 W-L GB
Boston 79-55 -- Boston 85-57 --
Tampa Bay 75-56 2.5 Tampa Bay 77-64 8.5
Baltimore 70-61 7.5 Baltimore 76-65 9.5
New York 70-63 New York 75-67 11

Once again, the White Sox provided a nitro boost for the first-place team. The Red Sox swept the White Sox out of Fenway Park, and have taken five of six since. With the Rays floundering, the Red Sox have virtually wrapped up the division with a bow on top.

The White Sox then lent their assistance to the Yankees, who won three straight to pull within 2½ games of the Wild Card. They've since been pummeled by the Red Sox to stall their progress on that front.

But that's fine for the Orioles. After winning the first three of a four-game series against the White Sox, they've leap-frogged past the Yankees. They're tied with the Indians as the first team out of the playoffs, one game behind Tampa Bay for the second wild card spot.

If only the Rays could get on the action. Unfortunately for Joe Maddon's crew, they already had their turn. They played their second and last series against the Sox in early July, sweeping them in three games at Tropicana Field as the Rays rolled to 21 wins in 24 games. So they're out of lifelines while they try to hold off four other teams, including the Indians (six games remaining aainst the Sox) and Royals (four).

Man, the White Sox have lost a lot of games this year. At least they're not spoilers for their draft position yet.

However, I do wish Addison Reed could've nailed down Saturday's save opportunity so Conor Gillaspie could've been hero for a day. Another classic blast of anti-confidence would've gotten much larger play:

"I was just fighting for my life," Gillaspie said. "I didn't want to strike out. Everybody up here is nasty. These guys are all legit, so if you go up there, 80 percent you're out."