08/25/07 8:50 PM ET
White Sox baffled by Wakefield
Team falls to 2-12 over last 14 games; Buehrle hit with loss
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Forget about the fact that the South Siders have lost four straight, 12 of their last 14 and six straight against the Red Sox (79-51). Disregard the notion that their 56-73 record dropped them to 17 games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 24, 1999 (68-85 at the time), and that their elimination number dropped another rung to 20.
And don't even factor in the meeting called by Ozzie Guillen after the game, a managerial move the straight-shooting Guillen barely employs, to make sure the White Sox players had not quit on themselves with personal and team pride the only goals left to obtain.
Things have grown so bad for the White Sox that during the Red Sox's eight-run eighth inning, Guillen couldn't remember if he still had a mound visit with the struggling Mike MacDougal in trouble. The countless trips to talk with the porous relievers during this series all seemed to blend together.
"That is how bad we were out there," said Guillen, who was battered but not beaten in the face of this disastrous two-week run for his team. "I forgot track of how many times I went onto the field. That is embarrassing.
"I almost went to the umpire to ask if I went to the field yet. It is not a good feeling."
Getting outscored by a 35-7 margin during the first three losses of this four-game set against Boston can't exactly be an overwhelming thrill for the White Sox either. Saturday's game actually started as a pitchers' duel between Tim Wakefield (16-10) and Mark Buehrle (9-9) for the first five innings, with each starter allowing one first-inning hit and nothing more.
Boston quickly changed the game's landscape by breaking loose for four runs on five hits in the sixth, dropping Buehrle to 0-3 with a 6.45 ERA in his last four starts. The sixth-inning dismantling was workmanlike, with Mike Lowell (4-for-6, two RBIs), Kevin Youkilis (2-for-5, two RBIs) and Bobby Kielty (3-for-5, four RBIs) grounding perfectly placed singles between third baseman Josh Fields and shortstop Juan Uribe.
According to Buehrle, this inning where the Red Sox batted around pretty much summed up the White Sox season.
"Three balls right in the hole," said Buehrle, who exited after throwing 99 pitches in six innings. "If Uribe would have been playing there, they'd hit them up the middle.
"A couple years ago, those balls would go right to Uribe, and this year they're not. It's tough luck, but what are you going to do?"
Sadly for the White Sox, Boston's sixth inning simply served as the undercard for its eighth-inning main event. Fourteen men came to the plate against Ryan Bukvich, who has not recorded an out over the last nine batters he has faced, Mike MacDougal and Matt Thornton, and eight scored on just four hits.
Along the way, there were two consecutive hit batsmen and five walks. Aside from Paul Konerko's 26th home run coming in the bottom of the eighth, Saturday's performance served as yet another drain on the White Sox collective confidence.
"Let's see, we've lost the last three games by how many runs?" said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski when asked about his team's overall outlook. "I mean, you just look at [Boston] and see why they are winning.
"It seems like they get the hits when they need them. They make a pitch when they have to. They make a play when they have to. That's why they have the best record in baseball. We just aren't doing it right now."
Pierzynski has played on three division winners and the White Sox World Series championship team in 2005 during his stellar career. He also has provided very direct critiques of the White Sox, in good times and bad.
When the catcher was asked to sum up this season on Saturday, though, he couldn't completely verbalize his thoughts.
"The words I want to say, you guys can't print," Pierzynski said. "We just have to find a way to do the best we can this last month and play as hard as we can. Nobody on this team has quit and nobody on this team has quit playing hard."
Guillen doesn't believe the White Sox have quit on him either, despite his short meeting after Saturday's loss. As a lively manager who likes to have fun on the job, Guillen didn't like seeing players hanging their heads or feeling sorry for themselves.
So even with just 33 games left, even after a troubling season took another turn for the worse, Guillen took the time to impress his thoughts upon his charges in the clubhouse.
"We still have a job to do here, and I think we continue to play like that. It is going to be the worst September they are going to ever have," Guillen added. "If I'm going to have this job to feel this way every day, I'd rather be home, because I have pride.
"I am proud to win games. I am proud to wear a big league uniform. I have so much [pride], I have so much things to thank baseball what kind of life I have and what kind of happiness it gives me.
"In just one year, I forgot how much baseball gave to me," Guillen added. "It's not going to happen to me. I'm going to show up with the same passion. It is not easy for me to see this thing day in and day out."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.