Monday night at Comerica Park, the upstart Detroit Tigers silenced the Chicago White Sox in the first game of their three-game series (DET 5, CWS 1). It was Detroit's fourth straight win and, at 9-5, they currently have the fourth best record in the American League. Nice start for a team that won only 35 of their final 140 games in 2019.
For the White Sox, Monday's loss was their third straight and fifth in their last six games. The offense has scored no more than four runs in each of their last seven games and six times in those seven games they scored no more than three runs. The defense also allowed an inside-the-park home run for the second time in five days Monday night.
Dallas Keuchel allowed three runs in six innings Monday night, so he was neither great nor terrible, and after the game he called out his teammates for their subpar play. Here's what he told reporters, including Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago:
"We just came out flat, and I feel like we just stayed flat the whole game," Dallas Keuchel said. "We've got some guys coming out and taking professional at-bats, being professional on the mound and doing what it takes to win, and we've got some guys kind of going through the motions."
"We got in at 2:30 in the morning. We played a tough ballgame against the Indians. That's who we're going to have to beat if we're going to win this division or we get into the playoffs," Keuchel said. "It just seemed like we were taking a night off. We can't afford that with a young core that we have here. We've got to show up every day, and even if there's no fans, we've got to make sure that we're ready to go. And if we're not ready to go, we've got to fake it until we make it."
Find the lie. I can't. Keuchel is a respected veteran with a Cy Young and a World Series ring, so he's not stepping out of line when he criticizes his teammates. The White Sox brought him in to bolster the rotation and also provide accountability. "We need to clean a lot of things up. If we want to be in this thing at the end of the season, we're going to have to start that now," Keuchel added.
The postseason field has been expanded to 16 teams this season but, over the last seven days, the White Sox have seen their postseason odds dip from 82.9 percent to 63.9 percent, according to FanGraphs. Still pretty good -- only six American League teams have better postseason odds -- but trending down. Keuchel and the ChiSox want to right the ship and soon.
The ChiSox have a young position player core and growing pains are to be expected. They're no fun to sit though, and during a 60-game season, those growing pains can do real damage in a short period of time. Five losses in six days would barely register as a blip during a 162-game season. This year, it's cause for a veteran to call out his teammates and reinforce a sense of urgency.