White Sox-Tigers figured to come down to the end
Q. Did you have the feeling the race between the White Sox and the Tigers would go right down to the wire?
I think the reason for that is fairly simple: While both the Sox and the Tigers are good teams, neither is good enough to run away and hide from the other.
Both have demonstrated a touch of resiliency throughout the season and a good dose of inconsistency, as well.
Hence, not much separation between the two.
In an ideal world, the White Sox would locate the hyperdrive on this ship and build enough of a cushion allowing them to use the final series in Cleveland to rest regulars and set their playoff rotation.
However, the likelihood of that seems minuscule considering the number of opportunities they've missed recently to accumulate some breathing room in the race.
Sure, it's possible one of these two clubs completely falls apart in the final week-and-a-half allowing the other to take command, but my impression of this situation is that the tension won't subside as we move closer to Oct. 3.
Don't count on a relaxed final 10 games, kids. Enjoy the ride as best you can.
Q. What players have to pick it up the most down the final stretch?
A. It's the offense, in general, that needs to find itself again. With the exception of Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Dewayne Wise in more limited playing time, many of these hitters have disappeared at the worst possible stage of the year.
While it isn't out of the ordinary to have a few slumping hitters at once, it's difficult to get by when almost every one of the big boys is failing to drive in runs.
Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski, all terrific in the first half, have not contributed nearly as much as they once did. Those guys, along with Rios, had been the alpha dogs of the offense and a huge reason the Sox have enjoyed first place for well over 100 days this season.
Without that production, the Sox' offense is essentially a shell of itself.
Those guys need to come back, and in a hurry. Hopefully a return to Chicago for a seven-game homestand will help them find whatever it is they've lost.
Q. Do you think the Sox have been pressing?
A. Tough to say for sure, but it certainly could be the case.
One thing this team has done exceptionally well all season is rebound from awful losses and bad streaks. The problem now is that time is running out for them to recover, and they can't afford to wait much longer.
So, pressure? Maybe. But it also could be that we're to the point of the season that wear and tear finally has taken its toll.
If you recall, this team employed a fairly regular lineup on a daily basis through the first few months of the season with infrequent substitutions. One thing to consider is that maybe some players are simply worn down.
•Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.
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