Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen isn’t exactly sure why his White Sox are struggling, but he knows that they must solve the problem.
Guillen’s club will try to avoid being swept by the Cleveland Indians for the first time more than two years in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday at Progressive Field.
Chicago (77-61) had won nine of 12 contests heading into its current nine-game road trip. The club picked up two wins to start the swing but has since dropped five of six contests, including Tuesday’s 9-3 defeat at Cleveland (67-70).
Four relievers combined to allow five runs in four innings, and starter John Danks failed to reach the fifth inning for the White Sox, whose pitchers have compiled a 5.91 ERA on this trip.
The offense has also struggled, batting .228 on the trip. The White Sox have been held to 12 hits while being outscored 14-3 in the first two games of this series.
Chicago has one home run over its last five games after totaling 24 long balls in its previous 10.
“There are a lot of things that we are missing right now,” Guillen said. “Maybe because we’re not scoring many runs. Maybe because the starting pitching throws four innings and that’s it. Maybe we’re not coaching right. Maybe I’m making the wrong decisions.
“We have to find out right away because if we continue to play like that, it’s going to be real tough to compete.”
Injuries are also hampering the White Sox. Outfielder Carlos Quentin was sidelined by a sore left forearm Tuesday, and left fielder Ken Griffey Jr. hasn’t played in the last two games due to tightness in his lower back - the same ailment that forced third baseman Joe Crede out during the sixth inning Tuesday.
All three players are considered day-to-day.
One thing Chicago didn’t lose Tuesday was its tie for the AL Central lead with Minnesota, which also lost.
Another defeat Wednesday would send the White Sox to their first three-game sweep by the Indians since May 30-June 1, 2006, also in Cleveland.
Chicago sends Javier Vazquez (10-12, 4,38 ERA) to the mound to try and prevent that from happening.
The right-hander has dropped his last two starts, including an 8-0 loss at Boston on Friday, when he allowed three earned runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Vazquez is 6-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 14 career starts against the Indians.
Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez homered for the first time since last Sept. 25 on Tuesday for the Indians, who have won back-to-back games after losing their previous three.
“We want to win as many games as we can and finish as high up as possible,” manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ official Web site.
Aiming for a third straight victory, Wedge hands the ball to Jeremy Sowers (2-7, 5.92).
The left-hander lost for the first time in five starts on Friday, allowing three runs and seven hits in five innings of a 3-2 home loss to league-worst Seattle.
Sowers surrendered eight runs - three of them earned - and five hits over three innings of a 9-7 defeat to the White Sox on June 30 in Chicago.