Yesterday, I listed six "musts," six things, the White Sox needed to do in order to win the series in Detroit.
How'd they do? Well, not so good in the disappointing 7-4 loss to the Tigers that narrowed the South Siders' division lead to two games. Let's review the list:
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.
Detroit starter Doug Fister was far from on his game, giving up three runs (two earned), four hits and four walks in just five innings. But Peavy was definitely not up to the task, charged with six runs, including two homers, and four walks in six-plus innings. His walk to Andy Dirks, which was followed by a Miguel Cabrera single, opened the door for a three-run Tiger outburst in the seventh off of Matt Thornton that broke a 4-4 tie. Delmon Young drove in the runs with a bases loaded double, but the real villain of the night was Cabrera, who went 3 for 4 including a two-run homer to give the Tigers the early lead in the first inning. So much for stopping their powerful 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.
Dunn singled in four at bats with two walks and two strikeouts, including a K with the bases loaded in the 4th inning. Paulie drove in a pair of runs on a force out and a sacrifice fly, but went 0 for 4 and also left the bags packed in the 4th after Dunn struck out. Not my idea of rising to the occasion.
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.
Wise walked, got hit by a pitch with bases loaded for an RBI that tied the score at three and scored a run. Youkilis walked and scored in the third for the Sox's second run of the game.
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.
A.J. did indeed break out of his slump, going 2 for 4 with a homer to get the Sox on the scoreboard in the second inning. He doubled to lead off the 7th, but ultimately was stranded at third.
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.
Not so good. The once reliable Thornton came on in relief of Peavy in the seventh and proceeded to hit Prince Fielder with a pitch to load the bases leading to him being the guilty party for Young's heroics. That was the ballgame.
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.
It was a good performance by the Sox defense while their Tiger counterparts fumbled all over the place in the field early in game. Second baseman Omar Infante even lost track of the number of outs in the third. Dunn did drop a foul pop for an error, but no damage was done.