Sox fail with sacks packed, fall to second place

Sox fail with sacks packed, fall to second place
August 13, 2010, 3:14 am
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Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010Updated 11:37 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago White Sox picked a bad time to revert to their 2009 form.

Tuesday night's romp by the Minnesota Twins was, in Juan Pierre parlance, an old-fashioned butt whipping, aided by Freddy Garcia's generous, batting-practice hurling. And Wednesdays 6-1 triumph by the White Sox was an exploitation of a rare lapse in fundamentals by Minnesota, and by game's end injury added to insult as three Twins left the locker room in slings.

And Thursday? Well, Thursday was a 6-1 Chicago loss of potentially staggering proportions.

First, it was reminiscent of past Chisox seasons of fundamental futility, as the Sox packed the sacks three times in the first six innings and came away with just one run. Of seven batters to come to the plate in an attempt to drive home some of the easiest runs possible, only A.J. Pierzynski in the first, with a swinging bunt down the third-base line that was seemingly destined to swerve foul, tapped in a run.

Not that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was overly concerned, instead accenting what his club did accomplish against Twins ace Francisco Liriano.

"We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of people on base in almost every inning," Guillen said. "We had our big guys up to hit with the bases loaded and couldn't get anything done."

Second, Chicago played a sloppy game, including a run-scoring balk by White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, failure to cover second on a steal attempt, poor outfield throws and indecisive baserunning.

Guillen had an off-night as well, with overly-cautious sacrifice bunting and making the curious decision to walk Twins catcher Joe Mauer with two out in the seventh, Chicago down just 3-1, then failing to bring in southpaw Chris Sale (and not even warm up lefty ace Matt Thornton) to face lefthanded Sox killer Jason Kubel.

Floyd had blown past 120 pitches and wasn't at his sharpest even from the get-go, so it was hardly a shock when Kubel doubled Minny's runs with a three-run, opposite field bomb.

"Gavin was throwing the ball well," Guillen said, adding that he had no thought of removing Floyd from the game when he made a mound visit prior to the Kubel at-bat, but merely wanted to give his righthander a breather. "I didnt even ask him how he felt. I wanted to give him an opportunity to finish the game. He threw a bad pitch, a breaking ball right over the plate."

"I just have to throw a better pitch there," said Floyd, conceding that he didn't feel as sharp as usual in this game. "It broke pretty well, but Kubel made adjustments all game and got a good part of the bat on the ball."

While coming into the season with a rough career mark vs. Chicago, Liriano has been splendid this season against the White Sox, upping his 2010 record to 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA courtesy of one-run, four-strikeout ball.

"We were facing a good pitcher," Guillen said. "He was throwing those sliders, and we couldn't do anything against them."

"He's usually effectively wild and gets a lot of swings and misses with his slider," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "You're hoping he hangs one, because you just need one good mistake to hit."

With the game out of hand, Guillen trotted out Bobby Jenks for a rehab ninth inning in an effort to reposition him as the closer, and even that didn't work out according to plan; Jenks left the game with back spasms after recording just one out. The burly righthander is considered day-to-day and is unlikely to see action in this weekends series vs. the Detroit Tigers.

Overall, the White Sox played not to fall into second place, rather than fighting to take back sole possession of first. In spite of another flat effort against their rivals up north (Chicago is now 4-8 vs. the Twins on the season), chins were up in the clubhouse and the team is looking toward Friday for a shot at redemption.

"It's just one game," Konerko said. "Now, one game can win or lose a division, and one game can be made up in just 24 hours. No one in here is getting down.

"This is the position we want to be in, playing meaningful games in the middle of August. There's a lot of baseball to be played, and we all know that."

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.