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What are your expectations of how the White Sox are going to perform in the playoffs this year? Do you think that they will continue playing good defense with solid pitching, and win the way they have all season? Or do you think we'll be seeing another one series appearance like the 2000 team? --Brandon Thomas, Hammond, Ind.
Brandon, the defense has been solid and the pitching has been strong. But I think we're seeing how much the Sox miss Frank Thomas. This isn't an indictment on Carl Everett, who has hit in the clutch for most of this season. But the lack of clutch hitting could be costly in the playoffs, assuming the Sox clinch a playoff berth.
Why does Ozzie Guillen keep playing Geoff Blum? This guy can't hit. And, in particular, why did he leave him in in the bottom of the 11th on Sept. 9 with the winning run in scoring position and a full bench? --B. Miller, Chicago
Ozzie has plenty of confidence in Blum, dating back to Blum's days at Montreal when Ozzie coached there. Blum's versatility gives Ozzie plenty of flexibility.
The Sox hitting stinks. Can you find out why most of them swing at balls way out of the strike zone consistently? Is the pressure that great? Someone give them a kick in the butt. Obviously Ozzie isn't. --Carl Schwulst, Bloomington, Ill.
The pressure shouldn't be that great, but poor pitch selection has been a recurring theme. There is hope, however. Look at the recent surge by Juan Uribe.
Hi, Mark. I see that the Sox hitters are tied for third from the bottom of the AL in walks. The top teams in most walks are the Red Sox, Yankees, A's and Rangers. Do you think this is because the top teams' lineups are a little more potent so pitchers try to pitch around them, or is it that the Sox are not as patient as these other teams and swing at balls outside the zone? --Tony Rich, Shelton, Conn.
Tony, I think the Sox have been well-scouted. You see how pitchers like the Yankees' Shawn Chacon and Kansas City rookie left-hander J.P. Howell love to throw first-pitch off-speed pitches to take advantage of the Sox's eagerness.
What scares you most about the White Sox: The shakiness of the starting pitching or the inability of the offense to bring home runners in scoring position without hitting home runs? --Woody Glier, Winnetka, Ill.
Woody, it's definitely the lack of success with runners in scoring position. This team was built on pitching and defense, and those two staples have led the Sox to first place. But I don't believe management expected the offense to struggle as much as it has in clutch situations.
It looks like a 165 game season this year because this team cannot beat the Angels or the A's. Maybe Ozzie's master plan is to blow the division to the Indians and face Boston or Yankees as the wildcard. --P. Smas, Alsip, Ill.
I wouldn't go that far, although every potential first-round matchup presents its share of problems. But I actually believe the Sox would fare better against Oakland than the LA Angels because the Angels are more well-rounded.
Will they blow this lead? Even Indians fans said it's too late. --Joe Schwenn, Chicago
They shouldn't blow this lead, especially if they take care of business in Kansas City. They've also played well in Minnesota, one of their former House of Horrors.