If winning home run derbies determined major-league playoff qualifiers, the White Sox probably would be favored to win the World Series.
Unfortunately for the Sox, it doesn’t work that way.
“It’s just going to take some hits together that don’t go over the fence,” Gordon Beckham said after the White Sox hit 3 solo home runs and not much else in a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
“If you string hits together you usually score runs,” Beckham continued. “It happens that a lot of ours go over the fence.”
There’s nothing wrong with hitting home runs, especially at an inviting launchpad like the Cell. But over 45 percent of the Sox’ total runs this season have come on homers, and that’s a clear sign of an unbalanced offense.
Over their last 19 games, the White Sox are batting .174 (27-for-155) with runners in scoring position.
“Again, that’s just been one of those themes as of late,” manager Robin Ventura said after the White Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games. “We get a home run here and there … they were swinging it all right today.
“I think we had guys with good at-bats, (Alex) Rios had one early. That’s the way it goes.”
As they have floundered down the stretch, Sox hitters appear to be taking bigger and bigger cuts instead of shortening up their swings, settling for singles and doubles and keeping the line moving.
They are still feeling pressure, without a doubt, even after Adam Dunn supposedly broke the tension with a pair of home runs in Monday night’s win.
With just eight games to play in the regular season, the White Sox still are locked in an AL Central dogfight with the Detroit Tigers, who defeated Kansas City 2-0 on Tuesday night to pull into a tie for first place.
Don’t be surprised if it remains that way until the final out of the final game.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who got the Sox on the scoreboard with a leadoff homer (No. 27) in the fifth inning to cut the Indians’ lead to 4-1.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy. (The Tigers) are not going to go away. They’ll keep playing hard.”
The White Sox plan to keep plugging away and hope something erupts with the offense. At this late date, they are not interested in making any drastic changes.
Paul Konerko was a member of the Sox’ last three postseason teams — in 2000, 2005 and 2008 — so he knows the thrill of every win in late September and the torment of every loss.
Konerko was in good spirits after Beckham grounded out with runners on first and second to end Tuesday’s game, and the White Sox’ captain is hoping to pass the good vibe on to his teammates.
“Right now we’re right on that cusp of getting a bunch of runs,” Konerko said. “There are a lot of guys having good at-bats up there. It just hasn’t resulted in that sustained offenses yet.
“But we just have to keep grinding because with that many games to go that cycle can turn. You can have a five-game stretch that’s great. There’s enough time where we can hang in there.”
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