After the White Sox failed to expand their 11/2-game lead in the American League Central, manager Ozzie Guillen wondered again Monday night whether they can finally take advantage of rival Minnesota's recent skid.
"We have to win," Guillen said after the Sox's shortcomings resurfaced in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees. "We don't have to hope for somebody to beat Minnesota."
There was a twinkle in Guillen's eye as he continued to joke about whether the Sox could make one last push away from Minnesota and win the division with 13 games left.
"Those little piranhas are out of teeth now," quipped Guillen, referring to the nickname he gave the Twins two years ago for their pesky style. "I got the feeling they don't have any teeth left. They've been fighting and grinding all year long. They should have little teeth now.
"It's time for us to pull them out and win it. Hopefully we stay in the pennant race."
Thanks to Minnesota's 3-1 loss in Cleveland, the Sox at least knocked a game off the schedule in an otherwise disappointing night.
Guillen summed up the goofy night by explaining that he put on a hit-and-run play in the fourth inning on which Dewayne Wise hit a game-tying two-run home run to account for the Sox's scoring.
And aside from Mark Buehrle's six innings of two-run ball, the Sox made enough mistakes to cost themselves a chance at increasing their lead.
Another bullpen failure, this time in the seventh after Ehren Wassermann walked the leadoff batter and Horacio Ramirez allowed RBI hits to Wilson Betemit and Johnny Damon, has caused Guillen to start eliminating candidates for relief work.
"I don't want to lose confidence in those guys, but they have to do it," said Guillen, who is forced to lean on his relievers while opting for a four-man rotation down the stretch. "If I get paid by each visit to the mound, I won't need a salary."
Orlando Cabrera led off the game with a double but was thrown out easily while trying to steal third. Juan Uribe's double with two outs in the fifth off rookie Alfredo Aceves marked the last time the Sox had a runner in scoring position.
The offense should be fortified Tuesday by the expected return of Paul Konerko from a strained right knee ligament. And Guillen plans to rest Ken Griffey Jr., who made three exceptional plays in center, and Nick Swisher on Tuesday and play Jerry Owens and Brian Anderson in an attempt to generate more offense against left-hander Andy Pettitte.
But the Sox sense it's time for them to control their own destiny and not rely on losses by a Twins team that has dropped three of five and will have Scott Baker pitching on three days' rest Wednesday against Cleveland.
"We're not going to win every game from here on out, but when we lose, obviously it's nice when they lose," said Buehrle, who was pulled after 101 pitches. "We need to take care of business and not worry about what they're doing. But you can't help but look up at the scoreboard and see if they're winning or losing."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun