It be's that way sometimes.
Statistically, it's not especially significant that the White Sox lost by being shutout for the first time all season in a dreary, flattening defeat to the possibly resilient Tampa Rays. Even if they had bloodied Tampa ace David Price for 10 runs, Edwin Jackson had racked up 15 Ks and looked stunning, but the Rays had won by scoring 11 times in an exceedingly fluky manner that surely couldn't be blamed on anyone and had absolutely no chance of ever repeating, they would have pushed their losing streak to 5 all the same, and maybe we'd be even more pissed.
Still, it probably would have looked better....and made for a fantastic write-up! (Example: Manny Ramirez descends from stands mid-play, steals ball from Brent Lillibridge, runs around outfield for three minutes before tackled by Rios as Rays players circle bases, umps allow it! WTF!!?!?)
For my money, Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Jared Weaver, Dan Haren, and David Price are a pretty talented slate of pitchers to go up against, so perhaps the offense settling into a 2.57 runs per game average for the past 7 games registers as merely "unfortunate" rather than "the worst thing about life".
Still, a good offense was a fine way to cover up persistent bullpen struggles and inexplicable defensive gaffes, and without it, it becomes readily apparent that neither of these struggles mean anything when you can't score runs.
Star of the first week Gordon Beckham's ever-tenuous hold on his plate approach seems to have slipped away yet again, as he's 3 for his last 30 and almost two weeks removed from his last walk. Alex Rios has admirably tried to become more patient in the absence of good contact, but his 3 Ks Monday are pretty indicative of how well he's fared when the bat leaves his shoulder this season, and since getting his appendix removed, Adam Dunn has done enough to convince Ozzie that he needed a day off...even if it meant starting Lillibridge.
Obviously with Dunn and Rios, the fact that they're veterans who haven't yet entered the world of old fogie-dom and possess established baselines of performance provides optimism, but if the wait for their recovery feels long, perhaps it's because help is not coming.
Jake Peavy left his rehab start after 15 pitches with discomfort Monday night. He'll be re-evaluated Tuesday, but as J.J. points out, the best-case scenario is that he has to re-start his series of rehab starts that was still a week and a half from completion, and the worst-case scenario is well...what's the word, 'fail-lonious'?
Peavy doesn't make or break this team, but his removal takes the one unique quality from the Sox with him: having a rotation where each member 1 through 5 could be confused for an ace for weeks at a time. Without him, they more closely resemble the 2010 team, a flawed contender with as good of a chance as any.
That's not a bad place to be at all in a division as wide-open as the AL Central, but it does make a 7-9 start and a 5 game skid a bit harder to shrug off.
Note I couldn't find a way to tie in to a paragraph: Matt Thornton's otherwise meaningless 8th inning outing was of supreme interest to me. He had tremendous velocity (Brooks Baseball had him hitting 97.4, Tropicana Field gun said 98), and got outs by pounding the zone with his fastball like he's always been capable of, even if he still caught the heart of the plate too much. The one time he got burnt? He decided to try to fling a slider on an 0-2 count and hung it over the heart of the plate. It left the building (actually it didn't, nothing gets out of that dome alive)
Why did he do that? Does he not have full confidence in his fastball yet? Is he buying into the idea that he needs to have a wipeout breaking pitch to be a closer and can't just be himself? It's foolish to read so much into such an obvious 'get some work in' inning, but any standing of confidence in 34 year-old Matt Thornton is grounded in that he is who he is, and that's not a guy who relies on anything besides his heat.