For Sox fans, that sinking feeling takes hold
Losing yet another series to the Kansas City Royals has put the White Sox in a difficult position as they try to hold off Detroit and win the AL Central.
Associated Press/Orlin Wagner
White Sox fandom's feeling of impending doom isn't based on much proof this season. I don't share it, but of late it's getting hard to shout down.
The Sox have been a better, more fundamentally sound team than Detroit all season long. The Tigers are one of the worst defensive bunches in recent memory. The numbers support that a bit, as Detroit has turned the fewest double plays in the American League, and allowed the second most unearned runs.
Beyond stats, trust your eyes. Austin Jackson is the only top caliber defender among their starters. Omar Infante was acquired to solidify the infield, and he has been awful, admittedly playing "a little tight."
Lately, though, the White Sox have had too many moments when they don't look much better at the basics.
They were "Royalsed" once again in Kansas City. You don't lose 12 of 18 games against a team like that without hurting your cause. This series alone saw horribly failed bunt attempts, missed cutoff men, and two horrendous baserunning mistakes at third in the same game.
Friday night's opener in Anaheim brought a misplay in center field and a needless pirouette at shortstop, amid Jake Peavy's worst effort in a month.
So, why is this all happening now?
I don't believe they're a team finally succumbing to pressure. Most likely, it's the law of averages, with a certain amount of sloppiness catching up to a calmly efficient group at a horrible time.
In either event, it needs to stop, quickly.
As flawed as they are, the Tigers have a schedule that may allow them to win ugly these next two weeks.
If the Sox do make it, the perceived strength at the top of the rotation in Chris Sale and Peavy (assuming it can be lined up as desired) raises one bright red flag.
Friday night's 8-hit, 2-walk outing brought Peavy's postseason history to mind. If you include game 163 in 2007, he has lost all 3 of his playoff starts, giving up 19 earned runs in 16 innings.
With two stinkers in his last four starts, doubt now storms into Jake's positivity, even after what has been an excellent season.
The joy of hitting
Let's take a moment here (again) in praise of Anthony Rizzo.
His season has had its ups and downs, with the inherent adjustments by pitchers, then by Rizzo himself, and perhaps back and forth once again.
Through Friday, Rizzo had provided 10 hits, 11 RBI, and 5 runs scored in his last 7 games.
It's been reassuring to see him not get figured out by the opposition, and sent back toward 2011's brutal stretch in San Diego. He still looks capable of being the first baseman of the next decade at Wrigley.
That's one hole that thankfully doesn't need filling.
A can of worms
The weirdness and danger of Bud Selig's Melky Cabrera decision this week cannot be overstated. Cabrera asked for, and was granted, a reprieve from the possible ignominy of winning a batting title in a year in which he was suspended for an admitted substance abuse.
It's a public relations move for Cabrera (a free agent to be), and the commish thought it would be good for the game too, even though he had said he would not bend the rules just one day earlier.
Why allow a one-time exception?
There's a simple, clear path here for MLB to take. If you test positive, you're ineligible for all honors that season. You can't win a batting titles, play in any all-star games, or qualify for end of season awards.
Take the decision making away from the writers, Bud, and avoid inevitable contradictions and embarrassment.
• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM, and The Score's "Hit and Run" at 9 a.m. Sundays with his Daily Herald colleague, Barry Rozner. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670
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