White Sox falling fast in Detroit
Buehrle loses again; offense unable to cash in
DETROIT -- Words such as 'flat' and 'lifeless' could have been thrown around concerning the White Sox effort following their 4-0 loss to Detroit on Tuesday before 39,361 at Comerica Park.
But team captain Paul Konerko and veteran backstop Sandy Alomar Jr. instead found a more accurate way to depict the South Siders' third straight loss, dropping them 7 1/2 games behind the Tigers (81-45) in the American League Central title chase. How about, good pitching usually beats good hitting?
"It's not that it's flat," said Alomar, who finished hitless in three at-bats Tuesday. "You look flat when you don't score runs. It's like chemistry. When you win, you have chemistry. When you don't win, you don't have any. Right now, we are being completely shut down."
"If you don't score runs, you always look flat," added Konerko, who is 1-for-8 during the first two losses to Detroit in this four-game set. "I've never been involved in a game or on a team where you weren't scoring runs and people said you looked good. One comes with the other. That's the name of the game the last two days."
During their three straight losses, the White Sox (73-52) have scored two runs on 15 hits over the 21 innings tossed by the three opposing starters. Of course, many other teams have struggled this season against the trio of Johan Santana, Justin Verlander and Kenny Rogers (13-6), who improved to 2-1 with a microscopic 1.00 ERA in four starts against the White Sox this season.
Rogers yielded just four hits over seven scoreless innings, but it was not as if the visitors never threatened. Jermaine Dye led off the fifth inning with an infield single, moved to second on a rare Rogers error and advanced to third on Joe Crede's deep fly to Magglio Ordonez in right. But Dye was stranded at third when Juan Uribe took a called third strike and Brian Anderson grounded out to shortstop Carlos Guillen.
Anderson kept a seventh-inning rally alive with a two-out single to center, loading the bases after Ordonez robbed Uribe with a sliding catch in short right field. Alomar hit Rogers' second pitch sharply to Guillen, who forced Anderson at second to end the inning. The White Sox also put the first two runners on base against reliever Fernando Rodney in the eighth, but came up empty.
A scoring chance also existed for the White Sox in the first, when Tadahito Iguchi singled and Jim Thome walked with one out. Konerko hit into a double play, halting the rally, but his ground ball to second is not what will be remembered from that particular inning.
The stoic Konerko, who rarely argues balls and strikes, took great umbrage with the first called strike by home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna during that at-bat. The arguing continued from the dugout in the bottom of the first, when Mark Buehrle (10-11) allowed two of his four runs over 5 1/3 innings, including a bases-loaded walk to Marcus Thames. The griping got so bad that manager Ozzie Guillen had to personally quiet one of his coaches, telling him that he would handle the situation.
Guillen handled the situation during Uribe's at-bat in the second. Iassogna stepped away from behind the plate, removed his mask and stepped toward the White Sox dugout and quickly handed Guillen his fifth ejection of the season and ninth of his career. So, what was the postgame reaction to Iassogna's strike zone, eventually leading to Guillen being tossed?
"No comment," said Buehrle, who slipped to 1-7 with an 8.10 ERA over his last 10 starts. "I've let my comments be known about the strike zone and everything else. I'll just let Ozzie do the talking."
Konerko chose to be a little less diplomatic than Buehrle.
"The first inning was ... I don't know what the [heck] was going on back there," Konerko said. "It was not good. After that, it seemed like it settled down a little bit. There were some pitches called on us, it wasn't so much the ones ... I thought that when Buehrle went back out, he was throwing pitches that were as good or better."
And then there was Guillen, who not only was upset with Iassogna's umpiring but also the fact that Iassogna made a comment to the White Sox manager as he was leaving the field.
"You look at a couple of pitches, that pitch to Konerko, it was embarrassing. And it wasn't the only one," Guillen said. "It was a few of those. To eject the manager in the second inning of the game, you have to look yourself in the mirror and be a professional.
"You can't do [anything] because they have all the power. The more you talk, the more suspensions, more money they take away from you and you have to shut the [heck] up."
Guillen's point for argument simply was to protect his players, something he will do until the last minute he serves as a manager. Guillen also can take his team to task if the situation dictates.
After watching his team lose its third straight at Comerica, Guillen emphatically stressed the need for a better effort from his team come Wednesday. Some saw offensive struggles Tuesday. Some saw the umpiring problem for the White Sox.
The man in charge witnessed a slightly flat performance.
"I hope I'm wrong, but the way I look at my team, I think we're a little flat," Guillen said. "Obviously, when things aren't going your way, the tendency is to go flat.
"I'm not going to let that happen. I'm a little disappointed with my team today and hopefully tomorrow we wake up and start playing the game the way we should be playing."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.