There was a common theme for the White Sox on Friday evening, and it became apparent very early in the team's 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. After Scott Kazmir hit Orlando Cabrera with a pitch -- no doubt in retaliation for Cabrera's screaming match with Grant Balfour on Thursday -- to start the game, he then walked Nick Swisher and gave up a single to Jermaine Dye.
It felt like the game hadn't even started and already the Sox had the bases loaded with nobody out, and their hottest hitter in Paul Konerko coming to the plate. Konerko would only pop out to second base, but Jim Thome picked him up with a single to right field to give the Pale Hose an early 1-0 lead. Alexei Ramirez would follow with a sacrifice fly to score Swisher and make it 2-0, but that's all the Sox would get as A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to end the inning.
Much like we've seen a lot from the White Sox this season, they couldn't capitalize on a golden opportunity to bury their opponent. Sure, the two runs were nice, but when you've loaded the bases with no outs, you're hoping to get more than that. Of course, those were two more runs than the Sox would get the rest of the night.
Inning after inning the Sox would get players into scoring position, only to come up empty. After getting Scott Kazmir on the ropes early with a 37-pitch first inning, they allowed the hard-throwing lefty to find a groove and stay in the game. They would end the game having left twelve runners stranded on the basepaths.
Mark Buehrle, meanwhile, gave another typical Mark Buehrle performance. He routinely worked his way out of jams, only failing in the second inning when he allowed a run to make it 2-1, and then again in the fifth inning. That's when soft-hitting Akinori Iwamura took advantage of a fastball Mark left up in the zone and drove the pitch to the left center bleachers to put the Rays ahead 3-2.
Iwamura only had six home runs during the regular season, and none of them came against a left-handed pitcher.
After that, the Rays bullpen took over, as Grant Balfour, J.P. Howell and Chad Bradford kept the Sox from mounting any kind of comeback. The south siders will now return home to U.S. Cellular Field trying to stave off elimination in Game 3 on Sunday. Much like the Cubs, they face the daunting task of having to win three straight to stay alive, but unlike the Cubs, they get to play two of those games at home.
And as they showed us earlier this week, they're capable of putting three wins on the board when they're backs are against the wall.
Still, things aren't looking very promising on either side of the city right now, and it could be time for all of us to turn our attention the the Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks.