10/04/08 6:39 PM EST
Dye doing his part for struggling Sox
Veteran slugger collected four hits in Game 2 loss to Rays
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
For Jermaine Dye, the numbers hit home -- five at-bats, four hits, four singles, four times stranded on base, two runners left on base.
Those numbers add up to offensive frustration.
While the White Sox offense has been quieted through its American League Division Series, Dye has quietly put together the makings of a potentially productive series, even if it hasn't yet included his usual home run power.
Without the runs -- or the wins, for that matter -- it'll be a series that ends with little solace.
"No matter if it's a playoff or a regular-season game, anytime you do well and your team loses, you still feel like you failed," Dye said Saturday. "We just try to find a way to win, no matter what. We win or lose as a team. There are no heroes on this team. We're all together. If we lose, I feel like I didn't do enough to help the team win."
Add in Dye's Game 1 double to his four-hit performance in Game 2, and he left Tropicana Field hitting at a 5-for-9 clip. He's more than halfway towards matching his career-best hit total for a postseason series, and he's been in 10 of them over his career.
He had never put up more than two hits in a postseason game, but he had been a steady October performer, entering this week batting .259 in 40 postseason games with four home runs and 16 RBIs. If he's going to have many more games this postseason, the White Sox are going to need his offense -- home runs or otherwise.
"Once you get in the playoffs, you're playing good teams, and they're not going to give you extra outs," Dye said. "You just have to find a way to get those runs across. Every run means something."
His production over the final month was significant for a White Sox team that played its way into a playoff spot without injured slugger Carlos Quentin. Until then, Dye was producing lower in Chicago batting order, including 78 games in the cleanup spot. Now, he's batting third ahead of power bats Jim Thome and Paul Konerko, and while his power has eased off down the stretch, his overall offense remains critical.
Dye still ended the year ranked near the top of the American League with 34 home runs, but he hit just two over the season's final month. Despite that, he still managed to drive in 13 September runs, mainly on the strength of singles and doubles. He plated seven runs over Chicago's final five games leading into this series, including three straight games with two each.
"I am a run producer," Dye said. "I have to get on base to let those guys behind me drive me in. But I don't put any pressure on myself and say I have to be the guy or anything like that. My mentality over the course of my career is just to do what I can do, and hopefully it's enough to help the team."
Down the stretch, it did. Lately, he's also showing how he can be an effective hitter aside from the home run ball, which accounted for 47 of his 96 RBIs in the regular season.
All four of Dye's hits Friday came with two strikes. He dug his way out of an 0-2 hole for a first-inning single that loaded the bases on Rays starter Scott Kazmir, then lined another single to left on a 2-2 pitch the next inning. The capper was a 13-pitch at-bat with submarine-style reliever Chad Bradford in the ninth that included eight foul balls with two strikes before reaching base safely on a disputed missed tag at first from Willy Aybar.
That wasn't enough for the White Sox to avoid putting themselves in the pressure spot of yet another set of must-win games. The key, Dye said, is not to press.
"Nobody wants to have their backs against the wall," Dye said. "I just think [we handle it well] because we have guys who have been around the game and more veterans in the clubhouse than other teams do. A lot of us have been in the playoffs before, and we understand the situation."
Among the White Sox, only Thome has more playoff experience than Dye. The challenge now is to help the Sox see at least one more game this postseason.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.