Think the Chicago White Sox are feeling the pressure of a pennant race? Since holding a seemingly insurmountable three game lead over the Detroit Tigers with just 13 games to play, Chicago has been taking on water.
They went into Kansas City and dropped two of three, then to Anaheim and got swept by the Angels. Suddenly their lead was down to one game. Chicago came from behind to beat the Indians on Monday, but dropped the second game of the series on Tuesday, which dropped them into a first-place tie with Detroit.
Wednesday night, with the Tigers having started an hour earlier, Chicago put three runs on the board in the first inning against Justin Masterson, but Chicago’s pitching didn’t hold up and the White Sox dropped the series finale by a 6-4 score.
Losers of seven of their last eight games, the Southsiders have scored a mere 2.5 runs per game over that stretch. The White Sox had ample opportunity to win a few more of those contests, but during their tailspin, the White Sox have been waving the white flag when rSTO, it was the first time that had happened for an Indians team since 1971 in a game against the Washington Senators. That game went 20 innings.
Jerry Layne had a tighter-than-average strikezone for sure, but there weren’t many calls that were questionable. The difference in this game came down to the bullpens. After Chicago Hector Santiago walked four in just 3.1 innings, Robin Ventura turned to ineffective reliever after ineffective reliever. In all, six hurlers worked the final 5.2 innings for the Sox and only one, Jesse Crain, ended his outing without issuing a free pass. In total, four hits, eight walks, and three earned runs were charged to the White Sox bullpen.
Meanwhile, Cleveland relievers worked 4.1 innings and allowed just one hit and two walks. They didn’t allow a run.
With seven games left, it doesn’t get easier for the White Sox. Chicago welcomes the Tampa Bay Rays for a four-game set starting on Thursday. Not only do the Rays come in riding a seven game winning streak, but they also have the best pitching in the league.