That loud thud you heard yesterday was the White Sox losing three of four from the Orioles, an even more disappointing development after our postseason hopes escalated following the 6-0 homestand against the Yankees and the Mariners.
The news isn't all bad. Despite the results in Baltimore, where the Orioles proved their chops as a legitimate playoff contender, the Sox still hold on to a three-game lead over the Tigers as the two A.L. clubs clash for the weekend series in Motown starting tonight.
The Tigers may have just been swept by the Royals, but on paper things don't look so good for the South Siders going into this series. Detroit has dominated the Sox recently and they've got their three big mound guns going Friday through Sunday with Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Then there's the lineup. It's not only Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Add those two to Jhonny Peralta, Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, Omar Infante, Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch and Andy Dirks, well, you get what I'm saying.
Here are six "musts" for the Sox to win in what is a crucial series as September arrives:
1. Sox aces need to deliver
Sox starters Jake Peavy, Francisco Liriano and Chris Sale have to match or outpitch their three formidable pitching opponents and hold down the powerful Tiger offense.
2. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko have to rise to the occasion
With an o'fer in the Baltimore finale with two more strikeouts, Adam Dunn is starting to get on our nerves again. It's great that his home run and RBI totals have improved and he's the major league leader in homers and may be the favorite for the Comeback Player of the Year award. But I'm afraid if he isn't more consistent in September, he and his teammates will be playing golf in October. And we need Paulie to go on a home run and RBI binge like he did at the beginning of the season.
3. Top of the order needs to get on base
That means Dewayne Wise and Kevin Youkilis. The No. 1 and No. 2 hitters getting on base could be the difference.
4. A.J. needs to get untracked
Having a career year, A.J. has hit his first major funk of 2012. A slumping Pierzynski doesn't bode well for the Good Guys.
5. Success in the bullpen
Despite being a rookie, Addison Reed has to come through like a veteran when called upon. No hiccups allowed. Same goes for first-year setup man Nate Jones, who could be called upon in tight situations, as well as vets Brett Myers, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain.
6. Limit the Tigers to three outs
The Sox defense has to be tight. No errors of omission or commision and giving Detroit four and five outs in an inning.
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Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, Adam Dunn, Addison Reed, Alex Avila, Andy Dirks, Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Brett Myers, Chris Sale, Dewayne Wise, Doug Fister, Francisco Liriano, Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain, Jhonny Peralta, Justin Verlander, Kevin Youkilis, Matt Thornton, Max Scherzer, MIguel Cabrera, Nate Jones, Omar Infante, Orioles, Paul Konerko, Prince Fielder, Tigers, White Sox