On this date last year, the White Sox were 61-51 and in first place in the American League Central.
A year later they are 44-72 and in the AL Central cellar. Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field added to their misery. A three-run homer by Brian Dozier and a two-run homer by Joe Mauer made for a five-run fifth inning.
The Sox got a solo homer by Adam Dunn to lead off the ninth off Casey Fien. It was Dunn’s 27th homer of the year. Conor Gillaspie then added a two-out solo blast to right, his 10th of the year.
“That’s just baseball. You have to be able to persevere through it and that’s what we’re in the process of doing,” manager Robin Ventura said before the Sox hosted the Twins in Sunday’s series finale.
While the Sox wound up succumbing to the hard-charging Tigers in the final two months of last season, August provided excitement and suspense on the South Side.
“August is a transition month,” Ventura said. “It’s a long season and I think everybody realized it. But in August is when it hits everybody. You don’t get that extra adrenaline boost that you have in September because you can see kind of the end. So August has always been a very difficult month for a baseball team. It’s tricky to get through it just by how many games you play.”
With nothing much to play for except pride and professionalism, the Sox trudge on as the faces in the locker room seem to change with each remaining day.
Lefthander Jose Quintana (6-3) got the start for the Sox on Sunday against Twins right-hander Kevin Correia (7-8).
“He has been good,” Ventura said of Quintana. “Again, you’re looking at a kid who didn’t break spring training with us last year, gets a spot start and kind of earns his way into the rotation and has gone from there.
“But even from the beginning, his competitiveness, his maturity and things like that have always been up front. He’s a confident, tough kid on the mound. Even last year it was amazing how tough he was in certain situations, but he’s learned over that period of time and has gotten better.
“We’ve seen improvements all the time and it’s nice to see him making improvements, especially into his second year. Now it’s more building on those innings and feeling and understanding on how to get through an entire season knowing how many innings you have to put in.”
Quintana and Correia were locked in a scoreless battle through four innings.
The Sox had a runner on second to lead off the third when Alejandro De Aza doubled. But De Aza committed a cardinal baseball sin when he tried to advance to third on a ground ball to short by Gordon Beckham. De Aza was thrown out easily at third and the Sox failed to score in the inning.
The Twins took a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning as Dozier hit a three-run homer and Mauer added a two-run blast off Quintana.
Quintana went five innings, allowing five runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out six. Correia went seven innings, giving up five hits over seven innings and striking out seven.