I was never expecting this to be the White Sox year. I described them as having a "third-place roster" at the start of the season. They've stayed in the race longer than I expected, playing meaningful games well into August.
But it appears this team is starting to run out of steam now. Over the last two weeks, they've gone about the business of losing the American League Central Division race in the cruelest way possible. Eight losses in 11 games, five of them by one run, three of them in walk-off fashion.
Look at the last three games. The Sox took a 2-1 lead into the ninth against Detroit on Saturday. They lost 3-2. The Sox took a 7-6 lead into the eighth Sunday against the Tigers. They lost 13-8. On Tuesday, former Sox DH Jim Thome hit a two-run homer off Matt Thornton in the bottom of the 10th to turn a 6-5 Sox lead into a 7-6 Minnesota victory.
This last two-week stretch has been difficult to watch, as the Sox have gone from having a 1 1/2-game lead in the division to being four games behind the Twins. Minnesota has its two best pitchers going the next two nights, Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. It is safe to say the Sox season is hanging by a thread.
We can't even say the Sox laid down for the Twins on Tuesday. Usually, you can find the Sox cowering in the corner when they play at Minnesota. But not tonight. In this latest loss, the Sox overcame an early 4-0 deficit, as starting pitcher John Danks was nowhere near his best. The Sox eventually forced the extra innings when Alexei Ramirez homered off Minnesota closer Matt Capps in the ninth to tie the score at 5-5. Ramirez came through again in the 10th, knocking in pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge with a single to give the Sox a 6-5 lead. This wasn't your usual "lay-down-and-die-against-Minnesota" performance.
The Sox ended up getting beat with their best reliever, Thornton, on the mound. What can you do? What can you say? The Sox can't win right now, and they're struggling at a time when they are playing critical head-to-head games against Minnesota.
A season can get away from a team quickly when it slumps at the wrong time. You get the sinking feeling that's what we are witnessing from the Sox right now. There are two more games left in this Minnesota series, and the Sox have to win at least one of them or they've got no shot in hell of making the playoffs.