To say that the Chicago White Sox have hit a skid in September might be an understatement after their latest homestand. Following their 9-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday night, the White Sox(79-70) now trail the Minnesota Twins by 10 games, and their dwindling elimination number rests at 4 games entering Tuesday night’s game against the A’s.
After being swept at home by divisional rivals Minnesota and Detroit, the White Sox losing streak sits at a season high six games; it was also the first time that the South Siders had been swept in back to back home series since 1989. The starting rotation, one of the key ingredients in the White Sox 28-8 midsummer surge, struggled mightily over the past 14 games, posting an 0-8 record and 7.09 ERA while allowing opposing hitters to hit a robust .345.
The offense, which had nicely complemented the excellent starting pitching around the All-Star break, turned in consistent lackluster performances during both the Twins and Tigers series. In those six games, White Sox hitters slashed .240/.333/.373 with 6 HR and 21 RBI. Those numbers would have been drastically different had the offense not repeatedly struggled with runners in scoring position. Against the Twins, the Sox left a total of 62 runners on base; against the Tigers, they left 53 runners on base(including 41 in Monday night’s extra innings loss).
Barring an unprecedented and unimaginable Twins collapse down the final stretch of the season, the White Sox will fail to reach the postseason after finding themselves on the brink of contention for the second consecutive season. Although the team’s quest for a postseason birth has come up short, there are still many reasons to watch the White Sox play out the remainder of their 2010 season.
Morel, 23, has received several starts at third base due to the struggles of both Mark Teahen and Dayan Viciedo. Considered to be the top third baseman within the organization, Morel quickly impressed both the organization and its fans with some big home runs and sharp defense.
Manager Ozzie Guillen stated, “I think it’s a little early to say that he’s a Joe Crede type. He’s got more range than Joe. I was say that Joe was better than Robin [Ventura], and people think I’m crazy. I saw those two guys playing third base for the White Sox for a long time, and this kid has a chance to be [like] those two guys defensively. Offensively? I don’t know.”
In 2010, splitting time between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, Morel hit .322/.359/.480 with 37 doubles, 10 home runs and 64 RBI in 526 plate appearances. He also posted a .962 fielding percentage, committing just 11 errors in 293 chances at the hot corner.
Entering Tuesday, Morel was hitting .286 with 1 home and 2 RBI in 14 at-bats and had made several outstanding, defensive plays, the most impressive of which came on an Austin Jackson bunt on Monday night.
Where would the Chicago White Sox be without Paul Konerko? Konerko’s consistency has been the cohesive force for the fluctuating White Sox all season; unfortunately, such intangibles likely won’t win him an MVP. Luckily, Paulie is arguably having his career season at plate, currently raking at a .318/.400/.594 clip that includes 37 HR and 105 RBI.
If Konerko continues the production that earned him All-Star honors this season, he should have a legitimate shot at winning the American League MVP. The manner in which he responded to getting hit in the face by a Carl Pavano fastball–in the heat of a pennant race, nonetheless–should alone make him deserving of the prestigious award.
Headed into Tuesday night’s game, 43 year-old Omar Vizquel has been the biggest surprise of the 2010 White Sox by hitting .285 while playing 2B, 3B and SS. The Venezuelan native currently has 2,793 career hits and needs only seven more to reach 2,800 and further solidify his spot in Cooperstown. In addition to his remarkable hit total, Vizquel needs only one more stolen base to reach 400 for his career.
With 517 career stolen bases, leadoff man Juan Pierre also needs one more stolen base to reach a milestone; Pierre’s 518th stolen base will move him up to 30th on the all-time list, tied with Patsy Donivan. Additionally, Pierre(58 SB) needs two more swipes to reach the 60 SB mark for the third time in his career, and the first since his 2007 season with the Dodgers(64 SB).