White Sox continue to lose ground
Club's fourth straight loss helps Twins gain separation
MINNEAPOLIS -- The edict came down from manager Ozzie Guillen following the Yankees' weekend sweep of the White Sox.
Win this three-game series against the Twins at the Metrodome or the White Sox chances for the postseason basically were gone.
After Monday's 4-1 loss at the Metrodome, the White Sox 15th loss in the last 17 games played at the Twins' home and 10th in their last 11 at this particular venue, the South Siders clearly have their proverbial postseason backs against the wall by Guillen's calculations.
"Well not, be done, but it will be tough, much tougher," said Guillen after his team knocked out seven hits in defeat. "You win one or two games on an 11-day road trip, and it's going to be tough, very, very, very hard.
"I don't say we lost our faith, but our energy. It's going to be harder every day. The way our offense is right now, it seems like it's very hard. I'm not saying we are out, but it's going to be harder to do it."
Guillen's crew might not have lost its faith on Monday, but it did give up two key clubhouse cogs in designated hitter Jim Thome and pitcher Jose Contreras. Thome, who turned 39 on Aug. 27 and recently passed Reggie Jackson for 12th on the all-time home run list, was sent to the Dodgers with cash considerations, while Contreras was moved to the Rockies along with cash considerations. The White Sox received a Minor Leaguer infielder and a Minor League pitcher in return.
Some pundits will view these moves as a sign of the White Sox throwing in the 2009 American League Central towel, even after acquiring Jake Peavy from the Padres via trade, and adding outfielder Alex Rios through a waiver claim. But the group on the field Monday night against the Twins didn't seem to have much life prior to the deal.
That sort of showing could be attributed to Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn (9-9) and relievers Jose Mijares, Matt Guerrier and closer Joe Nathan (35th save). The White Sox (64-68) put two runners on base with two outs in the first on back-to-back singles by A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko but did not put two runners on base in the same inning the rest of the way.
"Maybe when you are not hitting, the team looks dead. But it seems like a dead team," Guillen said. "I don't see any energy. When you are 0-for-4 every night, you don't have energy."
"We just could not get anything going offensively," White Sox leadoff man Scott Podsednik said. "We didn't give ourselves a lot of opportunities. We just didn't have enough baserunners."
Blackburn struck out seven and didn't issue a free pass, as the White Sox suffered their fourth straight loss and dropped to 1-7 on this 11-game, four-city road trip. Gavin Floyd (10-9) pitched well enough to win, as he has in just about every start encompassing his past 19, but Floyd allowed booming home runs to Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel in the third, sandwiched around a Justin Morneau single, giving Minnesota (66-65) enough offense for the victory.
Floyd struck out four and, just like Blackburn, didn't allow a walk. The White Sox stayed six games behind Detroit in the American League Central, with Tampa Bay topping the Tigers earlier in the day, but they now sit 2 1/2 games behind the Twins for second place in the division.
"Those are two good teams we are following behind," Guillen said. "They are going to come out and play better every day, and that's why I say it's going to be pretty hard [if the White Sox don't win the series]."
"Our team needs to get on a roll, start with one win and go from there," Floyd said. "We can easily turn around and get back in it. If we want to do it, we'll do it."
They will be doing it without a World Series hero from 2005 and without one of the classiest players and most prolific sluggers to ever put on a White Sox uniform. They also will be trying to get the job done on the heels of a 2-9 start to 20 games played in 20 days.
Suffice it to say, the road to success for the White Sox has not traveled through Boston, New York and Minneapolis.
"Well, there are a lot of adjectives to describe the way this road trip has gone and none are good," Podsednik said. "We have to dig deep and start fighting because our backs are against the wall."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.