Let's get one thing straight: It's ridiculous that Mark Kotsay has gotten so many starts as the White Sox designated hitter this year. Let's get a second thing straight: Kotsay is not responsible for Monday night's 3-2 loss to Baltimore, nor is he responsible for the Sox dropping three out of four to the lowly Orioles over the weekend.
As a matter of fact, Kotsay didn't even play Monday night, but he seemed to be getting the majority of the blame at White Sox Interactive, where posters are still furious that former Sox DH Jim Thome is now a member of the rival Minnesota Twins.
The fact of the matter is Kotsay is not the straw that stirs the drink in the Sox lineup. That guy is actually Carlos Quentin. However Quentin goes, so goes the Sox offense. And right now Quentin is killing the Sox.
In June, Quentin appeared in 26 games and hit eight homers and drove in 23 runs. The Sox went 18-9 for the month. In July, Quentin played in 19 games and hit seven homers and drove in 18 runs. The Sox went 18-8 for the month. Coincidence? I think not.
The Sox right fielder drove in 41 runs in 45 games while the team was on fire over a two-month stretch. That's the kind of consistent production the Sox need out of the No. 5 spot in the lineup.
Fast forward to this week. The Sox went 4-4 on their eight-game road trip, which is not terrible. But they lost three one-run games to the Orioles because of their lack of offense. They scored only 10 runs in the four-game set. Quentin was right in the middle of the failure.
He went 1 for 15 in the Baltimore series and 4 for 27 on the trip. Two of his hits were homers, but he drove in only three runs despite having numerous opportunities to deliver impactful hits.
Quentin let two golden RBI chances go by the boards in Monday's game. With the Sox up 1-0 in the sixth and Alexei Ramirez on third base, Baltimore elected to walk Paul Konerko intentionally to get to Quentin. Smart move as Quentin struck out swinging. All he needed was a fly ball to give the Sox an extra run, which would have been critical in a tight game. Quentin failed, and the Sox did not score in that inning.
Again in the 10th inning, with two outs, the score tied 2-2 and the go-ahead run on second base, Baltimore walked Konerko to get to Quentin. Once again, a smart move. Quentin grounds weakly to third. Inning over. The Sox don't score and Baltimore wins on a home run by Brian Roberts in the bottom half of the inning.
The inability of Quentin to produce lately has cost the Sox a couple ballgames. Konerko is the Sox best hitter, and the bat is being taken out of his hands because he's not getting adequate protection in the lineup.
The Sox badly need the productive Quentin we saw in June and July to reappear for the stretch drive. If that doesn't happen, all the Sox good starting pitching is going to go to waste in a sea of 2-1 and 3-2 losses.