NEW YORK—Orlando Cabrera's long pause spoke volumes about the baffling state of the White Sox.
"I think we're really missing something," Cabrera said Thursday night after the Sox absorbed a humbling 9-2 loss to the New York Yankees in their final game at Yankee Stadium. "I don't know what it is. Hopefully, we can get it back the next series. We can get that confidence back and we can win the next game."
American League Central.
Playing in a park known for its 26 World Series champion teams, the Sox hardly resembled a division leader as they were subdued quickly, losing for the third time in four games at Yankee Stadium and seventh in their last 11 overall.
"Horrible," manager Ozzie Guillen summed up. "We don't pitch well. We don't hit at all. We don't have anything going forward right now. If we want to get to where we want to get, we better start playing better. In general, offensively, defensively, pitching, the relievers, it's going to be tough for us to compete.
"Everyone has to push as hard as we can and as long as we can. We only have 11/2 weeks left. We fight all the way to now. Why do we have to lay down now? We have to get up and keep fighting because nobody said it was going to be easy, especially here. But we have to realize that.
"Right now we aren't playing like we're in the pennant race."
Even more disturbing to the Sox is that their failure to establish a semblance of a winning streak has made next week's three-game series at the Metrodome even more important.
The Sox have scored three runs in their last 19 innings and are 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position in their last two games.
After Alexei Ramirez hit a solo homer Tuesday night, the power-reliant Sox went 23 consecutive innings without hitting another home run until Paul Konerko hit a solo shot in the ninth off Chris Britton.
The task of taking care of their own business doesn't get easier for the Sox, who open a three-game series Friday night in Kansas City.
The red-hot Royals took two of three games in the series Aug. 1-3 that temporarily knocked the Sox out of first place and have won seven in a row.
Bobby Abreu drove in six runs Thursday and continued his domination of Javier Vazquez with home runs in his first two at-bats.
Abreu has hit nine homers in 71 career at-bats against Vazquez.
Vazquez showed the effects of pitching on only three days rest by allowing four hits in the first inning, thus wiping out a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, Vazquez walked three batters and was pulled after allowing an RBI infield single to Derek Jeter.
Vazquez is scheduled to open the Twins' series Tuesday night.