Worst fears realized. That's what I was thinking watching the White Sox get swept out of Minnesota and out of 1st place last night. Not only did they get swept, but the Piranhas did so in the most infuriating and demoralizing way possible. It is true that they hit and run the bases and field as if they knew the score already--knew they were going to win. But, that is just good baseball by a team perfectly designed to the venue they call home--that horrible dome, as my friend The Commish calls it.
The Sox didn't seem to be out-matched coming in, but their starters never got started (with the exception of Buehrle, who pitched well, but not well enough), their closer and bullpen did not close when the game--the season--was in their hands. Their hitters did not hit (with the exception of Junior Griffey, who had 2 HRs, 3 RBIs, and 3 runs scored in the series) There was also Uribe's pitcher-plunking, bases-clearing line drive last night--that was the only piece of luck that went the Sox's way in a series where they ended up on the wrong end over several questionable calls.
Ultimately, they didn't have enough in the tank to render those calls and other bits of misfortune meaningless, and the Piranhas took advantage of them everytime. The O.C., who was brought in precisely to get this team through this sort of crunch-time, again criticized the team's intensity, and got slapped on the wrist by Ozzie, who may think there's still a chance...
Is there still a chance? Of course, if the Sox run the table, including the make-up game with Detroit that shouldn't have needed to be played, and the Piranhas sweep K.C. to end their season, the teams will be tied with a play-in game deciding who gets October honors. Oh, and there is always the chance the Piranhas could lose a couple to K.C.--who wants to take that bet?
The Sox are not done yet, but a couple of players seem to have given in. Sadly, JeDye did not show up for the Minnesota series in any form, Konerko's hot streal went cold, the Missile fizzled, Wise came off as an unwise choice. It is true that Junior and JeDye and their aged bodies were a poor match for the Dome's spacious, stale-aired, ball-velocity-killing outfield. Sox fans were actually calling for B.A. to save the day--yes, it got that bad. But, the Sox had no answer to what the Piranhas proposed. They played the last two games of this series with more apparent toughness than the first one, and Ozzie's choice in-game can't be argued against too vigorously.
So, what's next? Well, they are at least three games left. How's that for optimism?