White Sox monthly recap
First-half dominance carries club through second-half slide
A hot streak to start the season for the White Sox was something that no one seemed to expect -- especially taking both series against the Indians and Twins in the first week. Chicago's starting pitching was the biggest surprise as the rotation looked to be one of the best in all of baseball. Jon Garland started off 4-0 in April as the starters combined to go 12-3 with a 2.90 ERA. The strong pitching performances from the Sox starters helped to offset a less than stellar offense as Chicago made a habit of clinching one-run victories, nine in all, during the month.
The White Sox started the month much as they had finished the previous one -- on an eight-game winning streak, their second of the season. Pitching continued to be the name of the game as Garland improved to 8-0 and led the American League in victories before dropping two straight to end the month. Garland's struggles were mirrored in the team's performance as well, with the White Sox going 2-4 on a road trip out West. A return home to close out month turned the tide with two straight wins over the Angels. The game against Los Angeles on May 30 also marked the return of Frank Thomas -- a huge boost for the hit-and-miss offense. June: 18-7
The South Siders really hit their stride in June. Mark Buehrle led all the starters in the month, going 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA. The offense finally was beginning to gel, which was evident by putting together a 10-run inning against the Diamondbacks on June 15. That victory sparked the White Sox to their third eight-game winning streak of the year. Thomas was also a big spark at the plate, tallying eight home runs and 13 RBIs in one month. Chicago captured six of its eight series during June, including four sweeps.
A great first half didn't have a great ending for the American League leader as the team dropped two series to Oakland at the start of the month, including a three-game sweep at home heading into the All-Star break. The Sox knew the series that followed the break against the Indians was going to be important, but they had no idea just how much. Chicago swept a four-game series at Cleveland in dominant fashion that would become huge later in September when the Indians went on a hot streak of their own. It wasn't all good news, s Thomas continued to struggle with ankle problems, finally going on the DL to end his season on July 22.
With a 15-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central on Aug. 1, the White Sox appeared to be on cruise control for a division championship -- maybe a little too much. A rough patch in the middle of the month started the beginning of a slide. The White Sox dropped two straight in Boston before having a potential win rained out and were greeted at home with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins. The losses were magnified by Scott Podsednik going on the DL with a strained left groin. Chicago missed its leadoff man and without his speed on the bases, the team finished out the month 5-8. There weren't many highlights in the month for Chicago, but one bright spot was the return of Brandon McCarthy to the starting rotation. McCarthy worked on his mechanics in Triple-A Charlotte after a few struggles in starts early in the season and it showed. McCarthy held a tough Rangers lineup scoreless on Aug. 30. September/October: 19-12
Things looked good as the calendar page flipped to the final month of the regular season. The White Sox began the month on a seven-game win streak but then dropped four straight, including a three-game sweep at home by the Los Angeles Angels. A lack of confidence by Podsednik on the basepaths following his injury slowed the offense. Their lead shrunk to 1 1/2 games on Sept. 22, but the White Sox won five of their next seven games to clinch the AL Central title on Sept. 29 at Detroit.
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.