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SportsMonday: Streak Freaks

How bad was that weekend of baseball?

Perhaps the haters (mostly White Sox fans but certainly some Cub backers as well) can console themselves with the idea that "at least the Cubs/White Sox were getting their asses kicked at the same time . . ." but for most Windy City baseball fans, that was just a brutal three days.

We can try meditation, repeating to ourselves "It is a looong season. It is a looong season" as a mantra for awhile, and it is certainly the case that baseball teams are going to have bad stretches no matter what (heck, the Yankees lost their fourth straight to the A's on Sunday, which was cold comfort to no small number of haters). The key is to make them as short as possible.

The White Sox are on the verge of letting this one get out of hand.

The Cubs' season essentially ended earlier this year when they just couldn't get a terrible losing streak stopped. They eventually dropped 12 consecutive games and that ensured that even when they played well later in the season, like winning 14 of 19 leading into the weekend in St. Louis, they were still looking up (several stories/games) at fourth place in the NL Central.

You could argue that the White Sox saved their season a month ago or so when they went through a bad stretch in which they lost five series in a row but prevented a sweep each time, i.e., limited the damage. When they turned it back around it wasn't long before the South Siders were riding high again.

Two of my favorite baseball maxims are "Momentum is the next day's starting pitcher" and "You can't lose a shutout." And both of them come into play when it is time to bust out of a slump.

I first heard Don Zimmer utter the second line (I think he got it from Jim Frey) and it is one of the absolute truths of baseball that if the pitching is good enough, the losing streak will end quickly.

Just look at the White Sox last week. Their best chance for a win would have stopped this five-game losing streak before it became two when Jose Quintana tossed eight innings of shutout ball at the Red Sox on Thursday. A measly one run was going to be good enough for the victory . . . until Cody Ross hit a game-winning homer for the Red Sox in the ninth.

One other thing right here - most post-game analysts talked about the White Sox bullpen blowing that game. Excuse me but the hitters scored one run! The hitters and the bullpen blew the game.

And then of course there is the "momentum . . . " line. The guy who had the best chance to be the starting pitcher who turned the momentum around was Jake Peavy. There he was with that brief little 2-0 lead on Friday and the happy possibilities were abundant. But he couldn't make it stand up (hopefully Peavy isn't going to be one of those "just good enough to lose" guys down the stretch of this season).

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It wasn't just that the White Sox pitchers gave up big runs day after day against the Tigers, it was that they gave them up at the worst possible times. Three times the White Sox took leads, once in each game in Detroit, and three times the Tigers rallied for a runs of their own in the next half inning (!) to reassert command.

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As for the offense, how much longer can Robin Ventura keep Adam Dunn (.204 BA) in the No. 3 spot in the order?

I know his power numbers are great and he draws plenty of walks but teams need good batting average guys in that spot because they need hits (and not just walks) to drive in the on-base guys in the first two spots.

I know they don't want to put Alex Rios in there because then you have four straight right-handed hitters to start things off, so how about moving lefty hitter A.J. Pierzynski into the three-hole?

At least he is keeping his batting average up above .280, and he has had great pop this summer (16 homers - more than Paul Konerko or Rios).

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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