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Saturday, June 15

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White Sox Mon Sep 03 2012

Delmon Young Ends White Sox Road Trip

I totally can't believe that happened... but then again, I totally can.

I'm not too surprised that the White Sox were swept by the Tigers over the weekend, with the two teams now tied in the AL Central. I mean, we saw this same thing happen a month ago. The Sox went into Detroit, hoping to extend their lead in the standings, only the Tigers completely shut them down. Déjà vu.

I just didn't think that Delmon Freaking Young would be the MVP of the series.

To be fair to the Tigers, they had several stand-out players this weekend. Miguel Cabrera hit the daylights out of the ball, racking up six hits, a .692 OBP (6-for-10 with three walks) and home run that set the tone in the first game - and he was limping so badly it looked like he had two wooden legs. Max Scherzer had a fine outing Saturday, going eight innings with nine strikeouts while allowing only five baserunners and zero runs, yet Justin Verlander topped him on Sunday. Verlander showed why he was MVP: 11 Ks with only one run (and that was the first batter of the game). He made Sox hitters look foolish, hitting 100 on the gun and getting the final strikes by check-swings and breaking balls chased in the dirt.

But Delmon Young... he came up big this series. Nevermind his triple in Game 2 (that could have been an inside-the-parker if he were hustling) or his homer in the same game. Young was clutch in the big spots. In the first contest, his three-RBI double in the seventh untied the game, provided the difference, and in the finale, he basically won the game with his sixth inning blast. Here's why Young's series was legit: that homer came on the worst possible pitch, a Chris Sale slider low and away. Young muscled it over the fence.

This is a weekend the South Siders would like to forget. They only got a combined 12 hits off Tigers starting pitching (over a combined 21 innings), and Kevin Youkilis, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham went 0-fer. Jake Peavy was touched up for six runs in the first game, and Francisco Liriano threw 100 pitches on Saturday, but only went four innings.

I thought the series was doomed in the opener, when the Sox loaded the bases in the fourth. They had no outs, and a Dewayne Wise hit-by-pitch just tied the game at three. Heart of the order coming up, a big inning coming up, right? No - Youkilis lined out, Adam Dunn struck on swinging, and Paul Konerko weakly grounded out to end the frame. Their inability to plate at least one more run was an omen, a sign of more things to come (or not come, as far as the offense was concerned).

I don't quite know what happens to the Sox when they play these important road games - they are 1-9 over their last 10 games away from home, and Chicago is 3-10 against playoff-potential teams in the second half (Detroit, Texas and Baltimore). Do they tighten up? Is their inexperience showing? Are they just happy to be here, in a playoff race in what should have been a rebuilding year? Has this season been a mirage?

Whatever the issue is, it's a bad problem to have; even if they can turn it back on and take advantage of their home-heavy September, the Sox will likely have a home field disadvantage in the ALDS, ALCS and World Series. That's not to mention that the Sox will probably be a visitor in a wild-card play-in game if it comes to that.

The White Sox get a gift, though, as their next 10 games are at US Cellular Field. They can very well get back some momentum over the next week and a half (highlighted for a four-game set against the Tigers next week), survive the remaining away games this season against opponents like KC, Minnesota and Cleveland, and make the postseason. Chicago can worry about the important road games if and when they get there.

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