I’ve been a White Sox fan for almost 15 years and have followed them closely for almost eight. I’ve sat through some rough spots, including the disastrous 2007 season in which they won only 72 games. Maybe “disastrous” is too big of a stretch because when I put it that way, I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to watching them because even when they’ve missed the playoffs, they’ve usually finished with a respectable record. That may not hold true this year.
What’s convinced me so is that the Sox, who have already been struggling for the better part of the first month of the season, were just no-hit by Minnesota Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano.
Normally, when your team is on the short end of this feat, you feel like you have to tip your cap to the pitcher who threw it. The problem in this case is that Liriano was struggling coming into the game and this no-hitter was the most underwhelming one in recent memory.
Liriano entered U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday with a 1-4 record and a 9.13 ERA. It should have been perfect for a White Sox offense that, despite its struggles, scored six runs on the Baltimore Orioles the night before. Instead, Jason Kubel’s solo shot off Sox pitcher Edwin Jackson was all the support Liriano needed in a 1-0 decision.
Twins fans will overlook the numbers Liriano put up in this no-hitter even though it’s normally a textbook stat line for a loss. Of the 123 pitches he threw, only 66 of them were for strikes. He walked six and struck out only two. Translation: this was more about an anemic White Sox offense than a dominating performance by a pitcher who’s been rocked by almost every other team he’s faced so far this year.
This game was far from an outlier and the stars seemed to be aligning perfectly for it. Since April 13, the Sox are 4-16 and have surpassed the four-run mark only twice as of Tuesday.
Yes, they’ve gotten runners on base, but their situational hitting has been horrid. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, who are supposed to be among the best power hitters on the team, are hitting well below the Mendoza line and Gordon Beckham, now in his third season with the club, is struggling just to stay above it.
I could go on about how the bullpen and overall fundamental play has been just as bad, but those are issues different from what I’m exploring here. The focus in this case is on the offense and how terrible almost everyone who’s a part of it is right now.
If you want to talk about stealing money, just ask Rios and Dunn, who are making a collective $24.5 million this season alone. After I graduate a little over a month from now, I hope I can get a job where I get paid that much even if I perform far below expectations.
The 2011 campaign is shaping up to be a disaster, but that point has been made adamantly made. This should not be said about a club whose $129 million payroll is the fifth-highest in the majors. Unfortunately, there’s no other way to spin it and for that, heads need to roll. I won’t specify who exactly should get the boot, but any change would be welcome.
Being the good White Sox fan that I am, I’ll still catch a game or two in person this summer. However, until proven otherwise, I won’t be able to take this team seriously as anything even resembling a contender. While there’s 130 games left to try and correct things, I wouldn’t hold my breath.