Want the bad news first, or the good?
OK, here's the bad: With Friday's 3-1 beating by the Yankees, the White Sox have lost a season-high six straight games and 14 of their last 20 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Believe it or not, there is still some good news: Despite their 17-16 record since the All-Star break, the White Sox have actually increased their lead in the Central Division by a half-game.
That hasn't stopped fans from reaching for the panic button, including the Beatles Night sellout crowd of 39,496 Friday.
The Central lead is now below double digits after Cleveland's victory Friday combined with the White Sox's seventh loss in their last 10 games to New York, Boston, Minnesota and New York again. It is a stretch in which they still have five games left against the Yankees and Twins.
They won't win any of those either if they don't start getting hits, because in their last 15 games they have scored only 46 runsand that includes 12 in back-to-back losses at Boston.
"It's time for the hitters to step up," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Right now we're not having anyone swinging the bats good. We're a better lineup than what we've shown.
"We're still waiting for somebody to come out and give us clutch hitting like earlier in the season. We need [Jermaine] Dye, Paul [Konerko], [Aaron] Rowand. When those guys come up with clutch hitting, that's when we're winning. We're not losing right now because [Scott] Podsednik [is hurt]. We're losing now because we don't have the clutch hitting we did in the past."
Sox starter Jon Garland (16-7), who has lost three of his last four starts, allowed three runs in seven innings. He gave up seven singles, but five of them came in the third and fifth innings when the Yankees did their scoring.
"I think I pitched behind [in the count] to every guy," he said. "I've been known not to be as sharp as I should be after a day off. I don't know if it's a mental thing."
The Sox gave Garland a 1-0 lead in the first inning, doing it the way they did earlier in the season.
Timo Perez, just as disabled leadoff man Scott Podsednik used to, singled and moved to second on a groundout by Tadahito Iguchi. But it took singles by Carl Everett and A.J. Pierzynski to score him.
The Sox didn't get another hit off Mike Mussina (12-7) until Jermaine Dye's two-out single in the sixth inning, which was followed by Aaron Rowand's strikeout.
They got another single in the seventh before Mussina left and they got a leadoff single from Iguchi against Tom Gordon to lead off the eighth. But Everett and Pierzynski struck out and Dye fouled out. And Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.
"It's not easy to come out there and give up three runs and lose the game," Guillen said.
"You can't worry about it," Garland said. "If you do, you'll get away from your game."
Garland didn't get into trouble against the Yankees' lineup, which featured eight former All-Stars, until the third inning when rookie Robinson Cano singled, was sacrificed to second by Derek Jeter and sprinted home on a single by Gary Sheffield.
The Yankees were back with two more, only one of them earned, in the fifth inning on singles by Tino Martinez, Cano and Bernie Williams and a bobble by right fielder Dye.
Time to panic? Guillen says no, not with the 91/2-game lead over Cleveland, despite the talk around town.
"Not [only] fans, but media people too," Guillen said. "Radio talk shows, TV, on the street. That's why they're fans and why they have radio talk. We're in Chicago and we have to deal with it. Nobody wants to win more than the players, I don't care who you are.
"We're not playing good, but we've got a better [lead]."
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