White Sox limp home tied with Tigers
Yes, there is still plenty of baseball left on the schedule.
Through all of the good times they've enjoyed this season, the White Sox always acknowledged the many games yet to be played.
And the Sox are sticking with their story after losing to Justin Verlander and the Tigers 4-2 Sunday night and getting swept in a big three-game series at Detroit.
The Tigers have won seven straight over the White Sox, and they pulled into a tie for first place in the AL Central as Verlander outpitched Sox ace Chris Sale.
This is the darkest period of the season for the Sox, without a doubt, but they are coming back to the South Side after stumbling through a 1-6 road trip to Baltimore and Detroit.
No team in baseball has been better than the White Sox at home since late June -- they are 21-5 since that time -- and the Tigers come in for a four-game series next week.
So there is some hope, along with 29 games left on the schedule.
There also is reality.
Detroit was the overwhelming favorite to win the Central this season, for several reasons.
Not only did the Tigers take off in September last year and win the division by 15 games over the Cleveland Indians and 16 over the Sox, they have the defending MVP/Cy Young Award winner in Verlander and baseball's best hitter in Miguel Cabrera.
They also have plenty of other pop in the lineup with Prince Fielder, who was added in the off-season when Victor Martinez went down with a knee injury, dangerous leadoff man Austin Jackson, steady shortstop Jhonny Peralta and rookie right fielder Avisail Garcia, who already looks like a keeper.
They have revived starter Max Scherzer, who actually is pitching better than Verlander at the moment.
Oh, yeah, Detroit also has Delmon Young, who delivered another big hit Sunday night.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the sixth inning, Young reached down and lined a Sale slider over the left-field fence for a 3-run homer. In Friday night's 7-4 win over the White Sox, Young's 3-run double in the seventh inning decided the outcome.
"It was huge because to win the division you have to win head to head," Young said on ESPN after the Tigers swept the Sox. "If they had swept us, they would have been up 6 games."
Instead, the White Sox (72-61) headed out of Detroit tied for the top spot in the Central while likely knowing they are 2 games behind Oakland and Baltimore in the wild-card race.
The pressure is definitely real now, and the Sox must realize that they can't keep playing the schedule card. They have to start playing better, and fast.
Sale was good, but not quite good enough, against the Tigers, and Jake Peavy, Jose Quintana and Francisco Liriano have plenty of room for improvement the rest of the way.
The White Sox did get Alejandro De Aza back from the disabled list Sunday, and the gritty leadoff man led off the game with a homer.
De Aza's return will help, but Kevin Youkilis (2-for-23 on the road trip), A.J. Pierzynski (3-for-22), Adam Dunn (3-for-17), Alex Rios (4-for-26) and Paul Konerko (4-for-23) all need to snap out of extended slumps.