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White Sox Tue Jun 18 2013

White Sox Down But Not Out (Yet) After Trip to Houston

Sox_200.pngThe funniest moment of the White Sox-Astros series happened on Saturday. The announcers were chatting about the Astros franchise and what shape they're in for the rest of the decade. Daron Sutton said, "The Astros have one of the best farm systems in the game," and as the next batter stepped in, he continued with, "Here's Ronny Cedeno."

Houston is doing a good job amassing young talent, and they will probably contend for a pennant in 2017, at the earliest. In the here and now? They are a really bad team. It couldn't be exemplified any better than the fact that they start Cedeno, a replacement-level player who roams from bad team to bad team.

Of course, the White Sox found a way to lose three of four to Houston. Baseball is a long season, and any team can beat any other team, but this wasn't a fluke. The Sox offense was putrid on Friday, squandering a great Chris Sale start (14 Ks over eight innings), and they had to play from behind on both Saturday and Sunday. Worse yet, they continued to make Little League mistakes -- including a game-ending pickoff at second when Jose Veras stared Jordan Danks down before throwing over.

This should have been a bounce-back weekend, a tune-up. Chicago came into the series 28-35; this could have been the series to make up a few games and then carry over their inspired play to run roughshod over the Twins, Royals, and Mets. Not saying these guys would magically turn into a juggernaut against below average teams, but it was a great opportunity to climb back to .500 and evaluate the team a month before the trade deadline. It didn't work out that way, though.

Then there was Monday. Though Jose Quintana didn't give the Sox that much (two runs allowed over 4.2 innings), the bullpen was lights out, and the offense even got a timely hit when Dayan Viciedo cleared the bases with a triple to center. The game had a different feel than the others, the feeling that the Sox would win in the end.

If they would have lost and gotten swept, I would have written about how the season was over, how it was time to trade some veterans raise the white flag on the season. With the win, I'm not scrapping that stance. At 29-38 and in last place, there's the overwhelming evidence that the Sox won't be in the playoff race this season (much less actually make the playoffs). But... I can't count them completely out just yet.

Maybe that's just because I'm the same guy who will watch a movie all the way through the closing credits, just in case there's a hidden Easter egg at the very end. It's also a practical mindset -- it'll be really hard to sit through games like Monday (a contest that somehow lasted three and a half hours) when you think the team is done and the game, in the context of this season, is essentially meaningless.

I'll admit that not throwing in the towel on 2013 is completely irrational. The team is banged up, they make boneheaded plays, and several players have regressed from last year. But the Sox have gotten good production out of their rotation this year (especially for what they have), and other players are breaking out of their slumps. Chris Sale, Alex Rios, Jesse Crain and Addison Reed always give the Sox a puncher's chance of winning.

And it could be worse. The Sox could be starting Ronny Cedeno.

 
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