The Chicago White Sox are indeed a surprise Central Division leader going into late August. 50 ESPN experts made their predictions at the start of the season. Not one predicted that the White Sox would even be one of the two Wild Card teams, let alone win the division.
So when a team as unlikely as this group from the South Side has a chance to steal the division from the consensus pick, the defending champion Detroit Tigers, they cannot afford to slip against inferior teams.
By all standards, the White Sox are a superior team to the Kansas City Royals. But watching the two play each other six times in August would give someone a different impression.
The White Sox are 4-8 against the Royals this season. They are 1-5 in the month of August, losing their last five meetings including this weekend's sweep in Kansas City.
Each game lost was winnable, yet all landed in the loss column. Yesterday they were shut down by Jeremy Guthrie and allowed the Royals to go on an eighth-inning game-winning rally to lose 5-2.
Both Chris Sale and Jake Peavy lost. The bullpen imploded on Saturday and on Sunday.
The White Sox should send a thank-you note to the Baltimore Orioles for taking two of three from Detroit as this disastrous weekend only cost them a game in the standings.
But the White Sox can go in two different directions now. The sweep by the Royals could be a wake-up call and send them back on their winning ways. The White Sox had won five of their previous six series that they played. The only series they lost was to Kansas City. Maybe the Royals beating them is a statistical fluke and they will go on a roll.
Or they could be starting to fade. How could all 50 experts at ESPN be so wrong? Maybe the White Sox are not built for the long season and the Royals sweep is the first indication that they are on the decline.
They begin a series with the Yankees in Chicago on Monday. Mercifully for the White Sox they will be avoid Hiroki Kuroda, who has been dominant. But they need to get back on the winning track.
And beware, White Sox players and their loyal fans. They play the Royals six more times this year.
If the White Sox lose the division by a single game, they can have their series losses to the Royals to blame.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!