Even as the Chicago White Sox’s offense struggled, consistent efforts from the starting rotation seemed to keep the team afloat.
Now that’s gone, too, and Chicago continues to tumble.
Chicago’s starters were solid during the team’s 24-24 start, going 18-14 with a 3.43 ERA. But the White Sox have since lost 16 of 21 as the rotation has stumbled, posting a 2-12 record and a 4.77 ERA. This past five-game turn has seen that group surrender 18 runs and 33 hits through 27 innings.
The lineup continues to show few signs of life, averaging 3.5 runs in the last 21 games.
Even Chris Sale - the rotation’s most steady presence - was not immune to damage in a 7-4 loss to the Twins on Wednesday. He matched a season worst by surrendering eight hits as well as four runs while lasting only five innings.
The White Sox (29-40) are 11 games under .500 for the first time since being 11-22 on May 6, 2011.
“We haven’t quit,” said Alex Rios in a 3-for-20 slump and the only Chicago player hitting over .270 (minimum 100 at-bats). “It’s still a long way to go, and we can get hot any time.”
Morneau’s home run, his third of the year and first since April 28, tied him with Kirby Puckett for fifth on the Twins’ all-time list at 207.
“Hopefully that gets the monkey off my back, and we can get rolling,” Morneau said.
He now looks to go deep against Danks (1-3, 4.50 ERA), who continues to be plagued by homers. His 1.80 home runs allowed per nine innings would be one of the highest rates in the majors if he pitched enough innings to qualify. He served up two homers in a 4-3 loss at Houston on Saturday, surrendering four runs over six innings.
Danks was pulled after 76 pitches, his fewest since throwing the same number May 24 in his first start after a year off due to shoulder surgery.
“I’m healthy. I feel good,” Danks told the team’s official website. “I just do what I’m told. That’s part of it.”
Morneau is 11 for 35 with three homers and 10 walks off Danks, who is 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA over his last four starts against the Twins. He’s 1-4 with a 6.05 ERA in his past nine in Minnesota.
The Twins counter with another struggling left-hander in Scott Diamond (4-6, 5.29). Opponents are hitting .346 in his last seven starts as he’s gone 1-4. Five of his losses have come in Minneapolis, where he owns a 6.40 ERA after yielding four runs in 5 2-3 innings in a 4-0 loss to Detroit on Friday.
All four runs came in the sixth when he surrendered three straight RBI doubles. Diamond has allowed at least three runs in one inning in three of his last four outings.
“I feel like it’s definitely coming around. I just need to prevent these big innings,” he said. “It’s getting pretty frustrating, and it’s not letting me get later into the game.”
Diamond, 3-4 with a 4.65 ERA in seven starts against the White Sox, held them to two runs - one earned - and four hits over six innings in a 5-3 road win April 21.
Chicago has lost 14 of its last 16 road games.