Considering how poorly they pitched, played defense and ran the bases, the Sox probably should have been swept by the Tigers this past weekend in Detroit. Instead, they miraculously won two out of three based solely on the sheer offensive force of Carlos Quentin, Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome who are all, like a drowsy Joe Quimby facing Sideshow Bob at a televised Springfield Mayoral Debate, on fire.
(Except in this case the flames aren't added electronically by channel 6. And for the record, I do think that Paul Konerko should do more hittin' and less whinin'.)
But it looks like the high wire act of shaky starting pitching, faulty bullpen work, downright horrid defense and a black hole from spots 6 though 8 in the line up finally caught up to the Sox Monday night in Minneapolis.
Behind Kevin Slowey, the same guy the Sox torched for 8 runs and 10 hits at the Cell a month and a half ago, the Twins routed the AL Central leaders 7-0 at the Metrodome.
The slam and bang softball approach might work against the flawed Tigers, but if the Sox want to win in Minnesota, or in the playoffs, they will need to begin playing fundamentally sound baseball.
First of all, the defense has really gone MIA lately. Small things like executing run downs and hitting the cut off man have gone the way of the button shoe. Joe Crede wasn't having a banner year in the field, but never underestimate the steadiness he brings to the hot corner-Josh Fields has flubbed a few plays already.
Alexei Ramirez gets a lot of praise for making flashy plays at second base, but Ozzie Guillen needs to get a message across to his rookie about hot doging: Ramirez's barehand attempt at a double play last night was inexcusable by any standard, and it wasn't his first such incident. And Nick Swisher, A for effort, but he's not a great centerfielder.
That kind of defensive effort isn't doing any favors for starting pitching that's leaving something to be desired, and a bullpen that all of a sudden is in dire need of assistance. Over the last month, Nick Masset and Boone Logan have been hit harder than Bobby Baccala and Silvio Dante by Phil Leotardo's henchmen.
Ultimately, I think the starting pitching will right itself-compared to other staffs in the AL Central the Sox are stronger one through five. But with injuries and confidence issues mounting, the bullpen is going to need a shot in the arm. I expect Ken Williams to make a deal for a reliever Thursday afternoon.
At the plate, the 3-4-5 combo of Quentin, Dye and Thome have carried the team since the week before the All-Star break, but it's getting harder to cover up the holes created by Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher and Josh Fields.
Even if you believe Konerko is going to come out of his slump and be a major league hitter sooner than later, there is no justification for his batting 6th in the line up right now. Until he begins to hit, he shouldn't bat higher than 7th or 8th.
The problem is, there isn't anyone else that should be promoted to the 6-spot. Swisher, who is getting a day off tonight, is in a brutal slump of his own and Fields is just getting his feet wet.
Someone needs to step up. Either one of Konerko, Swisher or Fields (or Crede when he comes back) needs to go on an extended hot streak, or Ken Williams has to make a relatively major trade to shake up the offense.
A major trade to add a bat is extremely unlikely (a move for a pitcher is more reasonable), so someone better start hitting, and fast. Quentin, Dye and Thome can't carry this whole line up forever.
Three more games in the House of Horrors. And two more days until the Trade Deadline. It should be an interesting week.