White Sox roughed up in Boston
Southpaw Danks allows four runs, seven hits in six innings
BOSTON -- Sixty-six games remain in what only currently can be considered as nothing short of a hugely disappointing 2007 season for the White Sox.
That total gives the South Siders some remote semblance of hope in regard to challenging for a postseason spot, a notion espoused by manager Ozzie Guillen following a series victory in Cleveland earlier this week, and over the past few days in Boston. But following Saturday's 11-2 shellacking administered by the Red Sox before 36,283 at Fenway Park, even the White Sox players have to be realists.
The rest of the year looks to be more about playing for pride and future roster spots than anything else.
Take a glance at these previous 25 games following the Cubs' three-game sweep at U.S. Cellular Field, when the White Sox play has become a bit steadier and they were able to post a 14-11 record. Guillen's crew still could not gain one game on the first-place Tigers in the American League Central.
A combination of the White Sox (43-53) coming up well short in the bullpen and still lacking complete offensive consistency, coupled with the talent coursing throughout the division, appears to have left the White Sox with too big of a climb to contention to navigate.
"Right now, July 21, nope. Nope. I don't see it," said Guillen, when asked Saturday if his team has what it takes to put together a sustained victory run to legitimately chase Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota.
"It's going to be tough," Guillen added. "You have to be honest, because we are facing pretty good ballclubs, guys fighting for first place. To make a run, we have to be perfect every day. And I don't see us being perfect every day. We cannot make anything against us, because we will pay."
During Saturday's setback, Kason Gabbard (4-0) limited the White Sox to second-inning doubles from Paul Konerko and Josh Fields and a Fields single in the fifth over seven innings. Gabbard walked one and struck out one, recording 15 outs via the ground ball, as the White Sox slipped to 10-19 this season against southpaw starters.
Those statistics paint the offense in a slightly less than perfect light. The bullpen work from Ehren Wasserman, Boone Logan and Dewon Day during Boston's seven-run seventh inning quickly took the negative spotlight off the hitters.
John Danks (6-7) gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out four and walking three, before exiting after 90 pitches. Wasserman, Logan and Day in the seventh, and Charlie Haeger in the eighth, combined to throw 88 pitches, with 47 going for strikes.
Five Boston hitters walked consecutively after two were out in the seventh, with the final three forcing home runs, as the Red Sox (58-39) needed only three hits to bring home their seven runs in the frame. In fairness to this trio of rookie hurlers, none of them were counted on at the beginning of the year to contribute at the Major League level. They were forced into action when Andrew Sisco, David Aardsma and Nick Masset were sent back to Triple-A Charlotte following bouts of ineffectiveness.
Nonetheless, the rookie relievers haven't done the job. The bullpen ERA currently sits at a season-high 6.06, and its ERA checks in at 7.52 since May 8.
"You just have to be supportive and try to guide them in the right way," said White Sox catcher Toby Hall, who had one of the White Sox seven hits, of the struggling young relievers. "They're out there trying their best.
"None of them tried to do that. They're trying to get outs. They're trying to stay here. They're trying to show -- not only the organization but other people -- that they can pitch at this level.
"The bottom line is either you do it or you don't," Hall added. "The people who do it, they stay. That's how this game is. If you don't, they go."
Performances like the White Sox turned in on Saturday would seem to indicate roster changes are on the horizon. Guillen deferred to general manager Ken Williams when asked for seemingly the eighth or ninth straight day about the various possible trade scenarios.
While Hall admitted the players are programmed to compete and try to win every game, hoping something crazy can take place over the season's final two months, the cold hard facts continue to smack the White Sox organization square in the jaw. The White Sox entered Saturday's action sitting 6 1/2 games behind the Twins, 13 1/2 games behind the Indians and 14 1/2 games behind the Tigers.
A 4-6 record on this 11-game road trip wasn't the start the White Sox needed to announce their presence for the season's second half. Fourteen games still are on the docket against Detroit, and nine remain against Cleveland, but short of winning somewhere in the range of 20 of those 23, the White Sox hopes look bleak.
At least, it looked that way to the White Sox after Saturday.
"Coming into Spring Training, we knew that we couldn't dig too deep of a hole, because there are too many good teams in this division," said Mark Buehrle, who will start Monday's series opener at home against Detroit. "If you get down too far, it's impossible to come back and get in this thing.
"It's pretty much the fat lady hasn't sung, and it isn't over. But the way we are playing and the way things ... They can't seem to fall our way all the time. It might be getting too late."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.