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Because of the timing, a lot of people will point to the 3-9 road trip as the part of the season that killed the White Sox.
Yet winning three out of four against the Boston Red Sox largely makes up for the asteroid-sized impact of that disastrous journey.
- The Sox-Sox season series ends tied at 4-4. The Detroit Tigers went 1-6 against the Red Sox, and the Minnesota Twins are just 2-4.
- The Yankees swept the White Sox … yet the Sox took three of four in a home series against them. A 3-4 record against the best team in baseball isn’t awful — especially considering the Twins lost all seven games against the Yankees, and the Tigers are 1-5.
- The Twins are 9-6 against the Sox this year, but the last three games will be played in U.S. Cellular Field, where the Sox usually dominate.
Nope, the Sox’s true problems will stem from that 9-9 stretch in August in the midst of a very favorable schedule, which they concluded with a 3-3 homestand against the dregs of the American League, Kansas City and Baltimore.
This is important to remember as the Sox begin a two-game homestand against the Oakland Athletics, who are last in the AL West with a road record of 27-40. They’re going to have to turn the tables in every home series the rest of the way.
vs. Oakland: The Sox are 3-4 against Oakland, which isn’t going to be a recipe in any division-winning season. Two wins against Oakland gives them the season series, and helps mask some of the stench from the August homestand.
vs. Kansas City: The White Sox are just 8-7 against the most incompetent team, top-to-bottom, in all of baseball. Winning all three gives them a more respectable 11-7 edge over the course of the season, though still underwhelming.
vs. Minnesota: Already stated. Even taking two out of three works, since the Sox were 8-10 against Minnesota last year.
vs. Detroit: The Sox haven’t lost a season series to the Tigers since 2004. They’re 5-7 against Detroit so far. Historically speaking, a 5-1 finish isn’t out of the question.
Now, the likelihood of the Sox achieving anything like this kind of stretch — which is pretty much .750 ball for the next few weeks — is slim to none. The force pulling the Sox isn’t guiding it toward any historical records; it’s probably pulling it to .500, and not letting the Sox go more than a handful of games outside its grasp.
Still, there’s a blueprint for success. The bulk of it is an incredibly tall order, but the individual tasks are feasible. And not just feasible as in, “Every team has a 50 percent chance to win a game,” but more like, “These achievements would not look out of whack on a small or large scale.”
This even works for the upcoming West Coast road trip. The Sox are 4-2 against the Los Angeles Angels this season, and 3-3 against the Mariners. Both teams are over .500, and finishing the trip 3-3 in any permutation would leave the Sox no worse for the wear — as long as they beat Oakland in the next two games.
That’s pretty much how it’s going to have to go. The Sox will have to be relentless in their pursuit to right past wrongs.
Now, there’s a 99 percent chance the Sox don’t have the talent to pull it off. But as a team of players and coaches who are paid highly to compete, nobody should expect them to give up the ghost right now. And if Tyler Flowers says he’s learning plenty by observing, we should probably take his word for it.
Minor league roundup:
- Gwinnett 7, Charlotte 4
- Wilson Betemit hit a pair of solo homers.
- Kent Gerst went 1-for-4 with an RBI; Brady Shoemaker went 0-for-4.
- Jack Egbert wasn’t good — 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.
- Fernando Hernandez had a 1-2-3 innings.
- Birmingham 6, Chattanooga 5
- C.J. Retherford hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning, his only hit of the day.
- John Shelby hit a solo homer, walked and scored two runs.
- Clevelan Santeliz gave up a solo homer, which raised his ERA to 0.96.
- John Lujan struck out three over 1 2/3 innings for the win, allowing just a walk.
- Winston-Salem 7, Myrtle Beach 2
- Brent Morel fell a triple short of the cycle, driving in three.
- Tyler Kuhn went 2-for-5 with a double; Dale Mollenhauer doubled twice.
- Nathan Jones struck out one during a 1-2-3 inning.
- Tyson Corley struck out two over his scoreless inning, allowing a hit.
- Kannapolis 4, Hickory 1
- Jon Gilmore went 3-for-3 with a walk and a double. He also drove in a run.
- Nevin Griffith allowed one run on two hits and a walk over six innings, striking out four.
- Santos Rodriguez struck out the side in his scoreless inning. He allowed a hit and hit a batter.
- Kyle Bellamy struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning.
- Josh Phegley went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts; Daniel Black went 0-for-2 with a walk.
- Daniel Wagner went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.
- Great Falls 3, Helena 1 (11 innings)
- Jose Vargas went 2-for-5 with a double.