CHICAGO – Perhaps it was fitting that the official reaching of the end of the first half of the White Sox season would end like it did on Thursday.
Despite a great pitching performance from Dylan Cease, the American League’s Pitcher of the Month from June, the offense went quiet until the final inning against the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field. Down by two in the ninth, they were able to scratch across a run and had runners on second and third with one out.
But Jose Abreu struck out then Eloy Jimenez grounded out, giving Detroit at 2-1 victory to start the four game series.
This puts the White Sox at the exact halfway point of their season, as they currently have a 39-42 record after 81 of 162 games. It’s a major surprise for a club that was expected to runaway with another American League Central division crown, but injuries and inconsistent play have them in a different place.
Tony La Russa’s club currently sits in third place in the division, six games behind the Twins for first and a 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland for second place. It’s a major difference from where they were 81 games into the season just a year ago, when a win over the Tigers in Detroit put them at 49-32 with a six game lead in the AL Central.
A chance to make up ground is there for the White Sox before the All-Star break as their next 11 games come against division opponents. Three more games at home against the Tigers will be followed by four against the Guardians in Cleveland then a four-game set against the Twins in Minneapolis.
But at some point, the team’s potential that many thought they had will have to be shown, for their second half must be better than their first to make the postseason.