CHICAGO -- How bad was Thursday's 7-2 loss to the Yankees for the White Sox?
Sadly, there are many shortcomings available to construct this particular measurement.
Thursday's setback finished off the first four-game sweep for the Yankees (68-42) in Chicago since June 17-20, 1976. In the process of winning these four straight, extending their winning streak to seven overall, the Yankees outscored the 52-58 White Sox by a combined 34-11 margin and didn't issue a walk.
"It is what it is," said White Sox team captain Paul Konerko, who returned to the lineup after missing the first three games with a sore left calf. "We just got killed for four games."
"Thank God this thing is over with," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Hopefully, we go to the road and turn this thing around and at least have some fun."
Having fun was a tough goal to achieve with CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes on the mound for the Yankees in Games 1 and 2, the Bronx Bombers exploding for 18 runs in Game 3, and then Ivan Nova (10-4) utterly dominating a White Sox offense still searching for consistency. Nova basically gave the White Sox one inning, when Alejandro De Aza and Brent Morel singled with one out in the third, and De Aza scored on Juan Pierre's sacrifice fly to right fielder Nick Swisher.
In total, Nova gave up just six hits over 7 2/3 innings, striking out a career-high 10.
So, how bad was this final leg of the Yankees' drubbing? It was dismal enough that a banged-up Konerko's two singles pretty much made him their top hitter during this sixth straight loss.
"PK come out and got two hits with one leg. That's amazing, how that guy go out there and put his best thing out of him for the game," Guillen said. "We caught this team on fire. I think we pay the price."
Said Konerko, who served as the DH: "Running laterally was really painful. Hitting-wise, I felt maybe 80 or 90 percent. Just keep working to get that out, that's all you can do."
Philip Humber (8-8) gave the White Sox a chance to win, allowing four runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. Robinson Cano put the Yankees ahead in the second with a solo homer to left, and the Yankees added one in the sixth and two in the seventh, pushing Humber to his fourth loss in four starts.
His ERA stands at 7.97 over that 0-4 stretch, but he has pitched better than the numbers indicate. White Sox starting pitchers have an 8.13 ERA (47 earned runs in 52 innings) during this six-game losing streak.
As Guillen predicted last week, the stellar pitching performances won't be able to hold up without a little help from the offense. The team scored three runs or fewer for the seventh time in the last eight games, and had just six singles to go with Adam Dunn's two-out, ninth-inning homer on Thursday.
"You definitely hate to lose a series, much less get swept," said Humber, who threw 94 pitches, with three strikeouts and two walks. "You gotta give those guys a lot of credit. They played the game better than we did."
A relatively close three-run game turned into a 7-1 Yankees lead in the ninth, when Russell Martin launched a three-run homer off Brian Bruney. The reliever has yielded 11 earned runs on 12 hits over his last three innings, covering four games.
But these struggles for the White Sox middle reliever become just a small part of the problem for a team staying 6 1/2 games behind the American League Central-leading Tigers (59-52), and now falling 3 1/2 games behind the second-place Indians (55-54).
If your cup is half full when looking at the White Sox, then these four games are chalked up to a red-hot team whipping through Chicago. Then again, many cups of the White Sox faithful already have spilled over.
"That's a good team over there," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We might've caught them in a tough spot, and we were playing well. When you have that combination, you can sweep a team."
"Two tough teams, obviously," said Humber of losing six straight to Boston and New York. "But we gotta take care of every team that we play. We're trying to win each and every game. Obviously, we would have liked to come out a little better on this homestand, for sure."
Coming off this 3-7 homestand, which gives the White Sox a 5-12 record in their last 17 contests at U.S. Cellular Field, the South Siders travel to Target Field for three games against the Twins. No problem there, aside from a 1-7 record this season against Minnesota.
Getting roughed up in the Twin Cities could be the deciding blow to the club's fading playoff chances, even with a month's worth of division games on the schedule. But the White Sox aren't thinking do-or-die quite yet.
This past week was so bad that even a dreaded trip to Minneapolis seems like a better proposition for Guillen's crew.
"We played pretty good baseball in the Red Sox series," Dunn said. "And then this one, the series just kind of got away from us."
"All I can say is you gotta regroup and get after it, or it's going to be one more loss tomorrow," Konerko said. "You just try to keep pushing along and see if it will turn."