In one 24-hour period, the White Sox's world turned completely upside down.
The warm summer breezes at Comiskey Park suddenly were gone, replaced by the predictable April chills and late-night rain.
Hot-starting Cleveland also had departed, having been swept out of Chicago in what was alleged to be a "message-sending" series. Replacing the Indians were the 2-11 Tigers, a hapless team that only their mothers and Ernie Harwell could love.
And after beating a premier power pitcher in Bartolo Colon, the Sox were facing a veteran knuckleballer in Steve Sparks.
The result of this ball of confusion was an 8-2 loss to Detroit, ending the Sox's four-game winning streak.
Sparks (1-1) cooled off the league's most proficient offense with eight innings of two-run ball, while Dan Wright suffered through his second straight sub-par outing, allowing six earned runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Wright, who put the Sox in an early 5-2 hole Sunday against Baltimore, gave up five runs in the third inning Friday.
"I'm not going to hit the panic button," Wright said. "I still have confidence in myself. I just need to eliminate the big inning and make a big pitch when I need it."
The game-time temperature at Comiskey was 52 degrees Friday, or 34 degrees cooler than Thursday night. The Sox came into the game with a league-leading batting average of .315, or 47 points higher than the American League average. Something had to give, and it turned out to be the Sox offense.
"You have to give credit to [Sparks]," Carlos Lee said. "He kept us off balance with everything--his cutter, breaking ball, his fastball, slider and his knuckleball.
"It was a different look [than last week in Detroit]. Last time he couldn't control his slider, so it was mostly fastballs and knuckleballs."
Wright (1-1) cruised through the first two innings before issuing a leadoff walk to Jacob Cruz to start the third. After Mike Rivera's RBI double, Oscar Salazar hit a two-run homer, the first of his major-league career.
The Tigers wound up scoring five runs off Wright in the inning, more than enough for Sparks.
Lee cranked a Sparks knuckler into the left-field stands for a homer in the fifth, but the Tigers came back with a pair in the sixth, and the Sox never challenged thereafter.
Kenny Lofton went hitless and didn't score a run for the first time in 15 games, suggesting that as Lofton goes, so goes the Sox offense. The Sox's record fell to 10-6, while Wright's earned-run average rose to 6.97.
Manager Jerry Manuel insisted Wright "made progress," but was concerned about his second straight shaky performance. For the season, Wright has eight walks to only eight strikeouts, a poor ratio.
"That's the second one," Manuel said. "If it continues, we'll have to sit down and discuss options, just like anyone else. We feel confident he can throw strikes."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times