"We did our best, but we ran out of gas," Paul Konerko said after the White Sox's mercurial season ended Monday night in a convincing 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay in the fourth game of the American League Division Series.
"They hit with people on base, they pitched well and they were better than us," Orlando Cabrera said. "That's the only way I can look at it. No complaints."
Cabrera, headed for free agency, probably played his final game with the Sox.
After winning their final three games to win the AL Central, the Sox were shoved to the wall by losing their first two games in St. Petersburg, only to pull out one more victory Saturday in a must-win situation.
But the Rays' superior balance, combined with the Sox's over-reliance on power and weary starting pitching, resulted in a loss that sent manager Ozzie Guillen to the Rays' clubhouse to congratulate counterpart Joe Maddon.
"It's not an easy season for us, but we did a lot of nice things for this organization and for the players," Guillen said.
Several players avoided the temptation to dwell on how far the Sox might have advanced if they hadn't lost slugging outfielder Carlos Quentin, steady third baseman Joe Crede and starting pitcher Jose Contreras for the final month or more.
"When I look back on this year, I think we went exactly how far we were supposed to go with the injuries we had at the end," Konerko said. "If we didn't have those [injuries], I think we would have made more noise because I think we would have won the division a little easier. But that happens.
"We got every last ounce we could out of the group we had here, minus Joe, minus Carlos, minus Contreras. If they were there, it might have been a little different."
Konerko struggled during most of the season but hit his second homer of the ALDS in the fourth inning. Gavin Floyd, the Sox's top winner with 17 victories in a breakout year, lasted only three-plus innings, giving up two home runs to B.J. Upton.
But there were warning signs before Monday's loss. Cabrera and Jim Thome each were 2-for-16 in the series.
"We limped into it at the end of the year," hitting coach Greg Walker said. "We weren't a good offensive team the last three weeks of the season. Some of it was due to injury, some of it due to whatever. But I'm proud of the guys. They worked."
For the veterans, some business was left unfinished.
"The first goal is to get in [the playoffs] and see what happens," said Mark Buehrle, who would have been the starter for a Game 5. "Any time you don't get in the playoffs, it's a lot worse feeling.
"We didn't get to where we wanted to go, though, so it's still disappointing."