OAKLAND, Calif. -- The White Sox have done well over the last season-plus under Robin Ventura at maintaining a one-game-at-a-time approach.
They rarely bask in the glow of one victory for too long. They rarely dwell on their rough losses. Part of the approach includes avoiding looking at the big picture, focusing on short or long stretches of games.
But even veteran Matt Thornton admits he’s surprised how poorly the White Sox played against the Cubs this week.
“You don’t expect that from us,” Thornton said. “We have a veteran-laden team and a good mix of younger guys and we expect to go out there and play well and do the little things right. Crazy things happen -- that ball that started out over the tarp and ended up by shortstop. There’s nothing you can do about that kind of stuff. But to have a stretch of that many games in a row where you play that poorly just doesn’t seem like us.”
Through 51 games the White Sox continue to be a quandary.
They haven’t hit at all and rank at the bottom of the American League in runs, hits and several other offensive categories. Although they have improved, they have committed the most errors in the AL (36) and have the lowest team fielding percentage (.981). What made matters worse against the Cubs is the way the pitching staff was knocked around. The Cubs outscored the White Sox 24-6 in the series.
[RELATED: White Sox beaten 'soundly' by Cubs]
Three days after they reached the .500-mark with a sweep of the Miami Marlins, the White Sox have to once again dig themselves out of a hole.
“It’s been inconsistent,” Ventura said. “You go through a good stretch and then you run into kind of the last three games that we’ve had. It’s not the norm of seeing the trend that it was starting to become. The last three games, you didn’t pitch as well as have been and that just compounds everything. You go through periods where you put so much stress on the pitching anyway. Because of the way we’ve been hitting, when you don’t pitch it’s magnified. It looks like you can’t pitch.”
Still, Ventura doesn’t want his players to dwell on a series in which team captain Paul Konerko said the White Sox were “beaten soundly.”
“You put it behind and go from there,” Ventura said.
Adam Dunn said that’s exactly what the White Sox have done. Though they haven’t found a groove offensively, Dunn and many players in the clubhouse believe their best days are still ahead of them in 2013. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.
“We’ve been swept before,” Dunn said. “Obviously it’s magnified because of who we played. But that’s not the last game of the season. We have a whole bunch left. … I still have a lot of high expectations for this team. I don’t feel at all this first two months is any indication of what kind of team we are.”
Thornton understands why the team’s poor play against the Cubs might be blown out of proportion. He has been around long enough to know White Sox fans hate losing to their Cubs counterparts. He also thinks those three days aren’t an indication of the team’s capability even with as bad the White Sox looked.
“You want to play well in that series no matter what,” Thornton said. “It’s the crosstown rivals and our fans care about it a ton because it’s the Cubs. They want bragging rights against their fellow employees and their friends and family. I get that and I’m glad they care. But at the same time, we played three bad games. You can swallow that loss a little better when you play good baseball and lose, but it’s hard to swallow that pill. We think we’re a good team and it’s just a matter of getting in a groove here.”