Sox sputtering offensively to start 2009
Danks solid Thursday, but bats don't back him in loss
CHICAGO -- The following offensive numbers from the 2009 opening White Sox series loss to the Royals were, well, downright offensive.
It especially holds true for a power-packed White Sox attack that figures to be fairly productive up and down the lineup.
There were just four hits produced by the White Sox during Thursday's 2-1 setback to Kansas City (2-1). The team went without an extra-base hit for 17 consecutive innings, until Carlos Quentin's double against closer Joakim Soria (second save) to lead off the ninth.
In total, the White Sox (1-2) have scored five runs this year, and three came on one swing of Jim Thome's bat in the eighth inning of Tuesday's victory. Only five White Sox baserunners have found themselves in scoring position over the last two games combined, with Alexei Ramirez and Dewayne Wise still looking for their first hit after 10 at-bats apiece.
Not exactly an impressive showing. But certainly not anything close to a reason for White Sox worries after just three games.
"Nope. I think we will hit," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his team's dormant offense. "We're facing three guys throwing the ball well right now. The only time I'm concerned is when the guys panic."
"Carlos Quentin is going to get hits, Alexei Ramirez is going to hit, Jermaine Dye is going to hit, Chris Getz is going to hit, Josh Fields is going to hit. All those guys are going to hit," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I'm not worried about the hitting. We had a couple bad days. Keep your chin up and you move on."
Oddly enough, the White Sox lone viable scoring threat on Thursday came against Soria, one of the American League's top closers. Quentin's first hit of the year was followed by ground balls from Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye, with Dye getting an RBI as Quentin scored. Paul Konerko drew a walk, and Royals third baseman Alex Gordon extended the inning when he misplayed Ramirez's slow roller for a fielding error.
But Soria fanned pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit for the final out. Prior to the ninth inning, the ninth hitter in the Kansas City lineup had as many hits as the three from the White Sox as a unit. Royals starter Kyle Davies didn't factor in the decision, but he was extremely tough through seven scoreless innings and matched a career high with eight strikeouts.
Instead of focusing on the potential problem with the offense against Kansas City, the White Sox instead credited the pitching of Gil Meche, Zack Greinke and Davies for shutting them down.
"I'm not the type of guy to give credit to people who don't earn it," Guillen said. "If we're facing a guy and I think we can handle him, then you will know about it. Those three guys, you've got to give them some credit."
"Davies threw the ball great today," said White Sox starter John Danks of his mound counterpart. "He has Nintendo stuff. He doesn't get credit for the stuff he has."
Danks pretty much matched Davies over six innings, giving up three hits and three walks while striking out five. The southpaw pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third when Mark Teahen's hard-hit line drive to Ramirez was caught and turned into a double play.
Matt Thornton picked up Mike MacDougal in the seventh by stranding runners at second and third, retiring David DeJesus on a weak grounder to second baseman Getz and striking out Teahen. But Coco Crisp provided the game's primary punch in the ninth off of Bobby Jenks (0-1), via his two-run blast to right on the first pitch he saw following Alberto Callaspo's double.
"A cutter that didn't cut," said Jenks of his pitch to Crisp, who reached base four times. "It happens from time to time. It stings a little bit, still. A lot of bit, actually. You just have to brush it off, and the more important thing is to go out there and get that win tomorrow."
Minnesota comes to town for three weekend games, starting Friday night, with one-time White Sox favorite son Joe Crede now playing third base for the Twins, but All-Star catcher Joe Mauer out of the lineup due to injury. These two teams are expected to battle for the top of the American League Central, although Kansas City could go a long way with the same sort of pitching featured the last three days, and the White Sox will be in trouble without an uptick on offense.
Of course, three games does not even add up to a full week, let alone a season make. So, there's no reason to be truly concerned over the team's .198 average. Remember, the Royals left Chicago with just six runs scored and a .214 team average.
"No one here is going to panic, I don't think. It's two games," Pierzynski said. "The only thing you're disappointed about is we wasted two great pitching performances from Gavin [Floyd] and Johnny Danks. Other than that, we played solid defensively; we made all the plays. We just didn't get the hits when we needed them."
"Be patient with them, and when you try to hit, be aggressive," Guillen said. "If all of a sudden you start looking at your average in the third day of the season, that's not going to help you at all. But we're going to hit."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.