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Struggling White Sox get left in the dark
It was a scrumptious, sunny Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field, but the White Sox's offense managed only four hits.
"I had an excuse," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It was the weather. Now I've got to throw it away."
As a 1-3 homestand ended with a 5-2 loss to the Angels, the Sox are last in the American League in hitting and next to last in runs scored and slugging percentage. Could this be the same team that last season was fifth in average, third in runs and first in slugging percentage?
"I don't think we had good offense this homestand," Guillen said. "We have to get better. We have players who should be better. I don't see anybody swinging the bat the way [he] should be."
What he sees is third-place hitter Paul Konerko batting .198, new cleanup hitter A.J. Pierzynski at .212 and fifth and sixth hitters Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede at .221.
"It's been ugly, it really has," hitting coach Greg Walker said.
If anyone can be exonerated of late, it's leadoff man Darin Erstad. He finished the three games against his former teammates with six hits in 12 at-bats, a homer and three RBIs.
He accounted for the Sox's runs Sunday with a third-inning homer after Alex Cintron had singled off Kelvim Escobar. Erstad found no comfort in coming through against his former team.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "We lost two out of three in the series. We're here to win series, so it didn't matter."
After scoring no runs for Jon Garland the night before, Sox hitters got on the board for Sunday starter Mark Buehrle, but he couldn't hold a 2-0 lead. The Angels scored twice on home runs in the fourth inning, got another run on two hits in the fifth and added two runs off Bobby Jenks in the ninth.
"It was not good enough," said Buehrle of his effort to earn his 100th career victory. "You get two runs and then go out and give it right back up when [the team] is not scoring runs. That's kind of uncalled for."
Said Guillen: "The hardest thing in baseball is to pitch and pitch well. We're wasting good pitching. The hitters know. They're frustrated. They try hard."
Walker holds the theory that "if it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger. We're not dead. We're in the thick of it. I think it will come out OK if we don't panic."
But it might be hard not to panic. The Sox's record slipped to one game over .500, and a West Coast trip to Seattle and Anaheim awaits.
Maybe Monday's day off comes at the right time. The Sox punched out only two singles in the final six innings Sunday.
Walker believes the lack of hitting centers not only around the abysmal early weather but batters pressing with the loss of Jim Thome and Scott Podsednik, two-thirds of the top of the batting order.
"We're dealing with a lot of mental issues that developed from negative mental baggage," Walker said. "And then we get a couple veteran guys banged up.
"But the thing I like about our offense is they're battling back even though they're not real confident right now. We've got a lot of come-from-behind wins. I know we're a better offensive team than we've shown."