The Chicago White Sox find themselves the losers of five straight and are now looking up at the Detroit Tigers. Following a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers, Chicago finds itself a game-and-a-half out of the AL Central lead.
In the midst of a losing streak that matches their longest of the season, things are out of sorts all over the roster. The White Sox were out-pitched and out-slugged over the weekend by a team who has been playing up to expectations over the last few weeks.
Chicago has three upcoming games at U.S. Cellular Field with Minnesota, currently the American League's cellar dwellers. Home-and-home series with the Twins are sandwiched around a tough three-game set in Texas. Hopefully by the time they head back on the road, the White Sox can break out of their funk in several areas.
Phil Humber was not good in three innings that yielded six Tiger runs Sunday as the South Siders went down 6-4. Dylan Axelrod was optioned to Charlotte to make room for Gavin Floyd to come off the DL for Monday's opener with the Twins.
Assuming Floyd is over the soreness that led to him missing a couple of turns in the rotation, Robin Ventura is going with Floyd, Jose Quintana, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale and Humber as his starters. It's hard to figure on John Danks, out since mid-May, returning anytime soon.
It's also hard to forecast Humber stringing together a run of consistent starts. Unless Kenny Williams can spirit a better option, it looks like the White Sox will have to settle for him as the fifth starter.
In that case, he needs to have more nights where he throws six or seven strong innings than abbreviated appearances like Sunday afternoon.
Adding Brett Myers and getting Jesse Crain off the DL fortifies the bullpen. Hector Santiago, who couldn't hold the closer's job this spring, has quietly settled into a steady middle inning lefty.
Santiago has been pitching in longer stints in the last month. He's pitched 16 innings in his last nine appearances, posting a 2.25 ERA in that span. Four of those outings were for two or more innings.
Offensively, the White Sox are looking for run support in the face of some inconsistent outings from the pitching staff. In the four previous games prior to the four runs scored Sunday, Chicago had mustered just five runs.
I have pointed out that the three and four spots in the lineup need to get back on track. Paul Konerko picked up a pair of singles Sunday, which hopefully will spark his sagging fortunes lately. Right now, Alex Rios has the hot bat.
The Twins are rolling out three starters with a combined 5.53 ERA this week in Chicago. Now would be a good time to feast on Minnesota pitching, which is also at the bottom of the league.
There is a lot of baseball to be played in 2012, and the White Sox have rallied back to reclaim first place in the division previously. The sweep at the hands of the Tigers stings, but it is key that Chicago regroups and gets back in the win column Monday night.