06/04/09 7:15 PM ET
White Sox offense stalls in finale
Beckham goes hitless in first Major League game
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Thursday's 7-0 loss to the A's, in a game in which Gordon Beckham made his Major League debut, marked the eighth time of the 2009 season that the South Siders have been shut out. Brett Anderson (3-5) picked up the victory for Oakland in his first career start against the White Sox (25-28).
Starters facing the White Sox for the first time improved to 7-1 with a 1.52 ERA this season. And to put the unwanted cherry on top of this bitter baseball sundae, the Sox are hitting a mere .220 at home in '09.
That's right, one of the American League's most potent attacks, especially at U.S. Cellular Field, features an average just a few paces away from the Mendoza Line. And all of this offensive futility follows a 10-3 stretch for Ozzie Guillen's crew, culminating in Monday's 6-2 win over Oakland and including a 6-1 road trip last week to Anaheim and Kansas City.
Moving into this weekend's AL Central matchup with the Indians, the White Sox are riding a three-game losing streak and a series loss to one of the AL's worst teams record-wise. Asked to explain this series setback, Guillen did not make any excuses.
"Well, they come here and kick our behind, flat out, just like that," said Guillen. "They played better; they pitched better. They made better pitches. They hit when they had the opportunity, and we [didn't] do anything at all this week.
"All of their four [starters] threw the ball real well. We win the first game late in the game -- very late in the game, with [Jim] Thome's home run. After Thome's home run, the team was shut down completely."
Thome's three-run shot came in the eighth inning of Monday's victory, breaking a 2-2 deadlock. Take away that particular blast and Jermaine Dye's two-run home run in the first inning on Wednesday, and the White Sox scored just four runs over the remaining 33 innings.
Mark Buehrle (6-2) suffered Thursday's defeat, with both of his losses this season coming on the wrong end of shutouts. Buehrle had his streak of 101 batters faced without issuing a walk come to an end in the second, when Aaron Cunningham reached base with two outs. But it was the two walks given up by Buehrle in the sixth that truly cost him.
Orlando Cabrera opened the frame by drawing a free pass, and after Adam Kennedy sacrificed Cabrera to second, Guillen decided to intentionally walk Matt Holliday. With the lefty-lefty situation of Buehrle against Jason Giambi, the Oakland slugger won the battle by launching his eighth home run on a 0-1 pitch.
This particular managerial move helped turn a 1-0 disadvantage into a four-run deficit.
"Only one bad pitch, but I will take the blame," said Guillen of Buehrle, who struck out four and walked three while giving up four runs over eight innings. "Every time I walk the guy to face another guy, it's a bad move. I walk two guys in this series, and the guy behind him makes me pay the price. After they scored those three runs, it took the wind out of the ballclub."
"You look at the matchup, and Holliday is a great hitter," Buehrle said. "He had two hits off of me earlier in the game. I think it favors our side, but if you have a guy like Giambi, I would personally rather face righties than lefties. I feel more comfortable throwing my cutter and changeup. I still have to make a better pitch. I made a bad pitch, and the guy has hit 400 home runs. He's supposed to do that."
Anderson limited the White Sox to six singles over seven innings while striking out four. Michael Wuertz and Santiago Casilla allowed one hit between them during the final two frames.
Even Beckham, the team's top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, was done in by the White Sox home offensive drought. The third baseman finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
"Again, you should do better at home," Paul Konerko said. "That average will get better as we go, but that's a terrible stat. Some stats lie. That one doesn't. That's bad.
"We're not sustaining anything. We've had some little spurts here and there, but we're not sustaining an attack for a long time, so it's disheartening."
One positive piece of news coming from Thursday was another loss by Detroit to Boston. Despite the White Sox slipping to third place behind the Twins, they sit 3 1/2 games out of first.
Cleveland comes to Chicago with a dismal record similar to Oakland's. But judging by the outcome from the past three days and some of these stunning season statistics, nothing is a given.
"It's not good we lost three of four to one of the worst teams in baseball, so we have to come back tomorrow," said Buehrle, who fell to 3-12 lifetime against the A's despite a career record that is 39 games over .500.
"Our record is exactly what it should be, really. In fact, it might be a little better than it should be," Konerko said. "Right now, it's not going to cut it in the long run. We need to get better in a lot of areas. I think we're going about it right. No problems. Everyone is grinding. Good team, good guys -- but we just got to get better on the execution side."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.