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Thursday, December 5

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White Sox Sat Jun 05 2010

White Sox Bats Go Quiet Again

SoxLogoSmall.jpegAt times, it can be hard to discern whether the frequent futility of the White Sox offense stems from a lack of skill or a lack of luck. There is evidence to support both conclusions -- and the answer probably encompasses both.

But mired as they are in the bottom third of MLB teams in total runs, it can be painful to watch these 2010 Sox struggle to score. Saturday they squandered a fine effort by mercurial would-be ace Jake Peavy, falling for the second straight night to visiting Cleveland, 3-1.

<< INDIANS 3, WHITE SOX 1 >>

Peavy gave up three straight singles in the fourth inning, then threw a wild pitch and balked in a run, but it didn't seem fair that such a brief speed bump should cost him the game. With the way Chicago is hitting, those two runs were all it took.

The Sox continued to make Indians starter Mitch Talbot look like the next C.C. Sabathia or Cliff Lee, scoring one run in seven innings against the replacement-level right-hander. In three starts against Chicago this season, Talbot is 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 23 innings. In his eight other starts, he's 4-4 with a 4.44 ERA.

At the same time, the Sox did manage six hits and three walks in the first six innings. Talbot wasn't at all overwhelming. But they stranded two runners apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and then went quietly against Talbot in the seventh, Chris Perez in the eighth and Kerry Wood in the ninth.

Do you blame it on bad luck? Do you say, as Hawk Harrelson often does, that this or that struggling Sox slugger is "due" for a big hit or a breakout night? Well, to some extent, that seems fair. Chicago is dead last in the majors with a .249 batting average on balls in play, suggesting there is something to the idea that they're getting good wood on the ball -- or at least better than the results suggest -- and not getting any breaks.

The Sox are well below the .298 major-league average for BABIP this season. Every other team is hitting at least .270 on balls in play. Surely we'll see some hits start to fall in for guys like Carlos Quentin (.203 BABIP) and A.J. Pierzynski (.231) and the beleaguered sophomore Gordon Beckham (.245). You know they're not all just striking out constantly -- Chicago's 268 strikeouts are the fewest in baseball by a wide margin. (No other team is under 300.)

Meantime, the Sox lineup just looks feeble some nights. While Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and Andruw Jones have been very good or great, every other spot has produced below-average or poor results, especially with the solid (but unspectacular) Mark Teahen on the shelf until mid-July.

Even as the underachieving pitching staff shows some signs of life, it's difficult to see much changing for the 23-32 Sox until and unless they get more from Quentin and Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez and Juan Pierre and some combination of Beckham, Jayson Nix and the ageless Omar Vizquel. Can that happen? Several of these guys are on the downside of their careers.

If it's going to happen, it had better happen soon.

CLE -- 000 200 010 -- 3 9 0
CWS -- 000 100 000 -- 1 7 0

 
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