Chicago White Sox Must Convert on Chances in Sprint to AL Central Title

Jon FromiSenior Analyst ISeptember 23, 2012

Adam Dunn and the rest of the White Sox offense have to bear down with runners in scoring position.
Adam Dunn and the rest of the White Sox offense have to bear down with runners in scoring position.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox find themselves in a 10-game sprint to the American League Central title with the Detroit Tigers. That means hitting the ball with ducks on the pond.

The White Sox limp home after a 1-5 road trip that ended with a 4-1 loss Sunday afternoon. That defeat completed a sweep of Chicago at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Detroit will be a half or full game behind the White Sox depending on their Sunday night game with Minnesota.

Either way, Chicago's playoff hopes depend on their performance in the last 10 games of the regular season. That will mean converting on scoring opportunities, which hasn't been a strength lately.

In the last six games, White Sox batters came to the plate with runners in scoring position 42 times. They managed three hits in those at-bats. Chicago's offense averaged less than two runs a contest against the Royals and Angels this past week.

The pitching wasn't on shutdown mode on the trip, but there wasn't a lot of support from the White Sox bats, either. Jose Quintana gave up four first-inning runs on Saturday, but settled in and combined with Nate Jones and Brett Meyers to shut out the Angels the rest of the way.

Chicago was 0-7 with runners in scoring position in that game. In the seventh inning, the White Sox had runners on second and third with no outs and down 4-1. Dewayne Wise groundout to score Alex Rios from third, but Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham also groundout to end what could have been a big inning.

Sunday, Chicago loaded the bases on Jered Weaver after Wise flew out to start the game. Kevin Youkilis singled, Adam Dunn doubled and Paul Konerko drew a walk. With a chance to get to one of the league's top pitchers early, Rios struck out and A.J. Pierzynski ground to short, forcing out Konerko.

That's the way it's been lately for the White Sox, who have struggled to put up runs when they aren't sending balls out of the yard. This weekend in Anaheim Stadium, Chicago had one hit in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The White Sox must improve on their production when scoring chances present themselves. That has to start Monday when they begin their final home stand of the season against Cleveland.