Despite rut, White Sox aren't panicking

After strong start to season, losses piling up

Despite rut, White Sox aren't panicking

HOUSTON -- The White Sox are a .500 baseball team.

Their record shows it at 40-40 following a 5-0 loss to the Astros on Friday night at Minute Maid Park. Let's also mix in a 21-19 record at home and a 19-21 record on the road, pretty much indicating the definition of break even.

So the point to be addressed presently is can they truly get above this level? Sure, the 2016 White Sox stood at 23-10 on May 9, with a six-game lead in the American League Central.

But that team now almost seems like a different season. Even with the White Sox slipping to 9 1/2 games and 10 losses behind the scorching Indians, the players believe a turnaround toward excellence remains possible.

"Yeah, I absolutely do," White Sox third baseman Tyler Saladino said. "We have good veteran guys and stuff that we all look to or just they lead us.

"Going forward, it's just a matter of things clicking. You can chalk [being streaky] up as being part of baseball or you try not to beat yourself up over a loss or anything like that. But we count on each other and once we get it right, we will be good and we'll get going."

Against Mike Fiers and his 4.41 ERA, the White Sox never got it going Friday. The same happened Tuesday against Kyle Gibson, who entered the start winless, but had previously dominated the White Sox during his career. The White Sox slipped to 12-27 in the 39 games where they have scored three runs or less.

Miguel Gonzalez was dominant on the mound for the White Sox right up until Carlos Gomez launched a two-run homer with one out in the seventh. Without run support, though, it's a good start gone to waste.

"I thought he was great until Gomez got him," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Gonzalez. "We had some opportunities. You get some guys on and you'd sting one, but it was right at somebody. You couldn't ever push anything across. Their guy matched him as well."

"They battled last game when I pitched and I gave up eight runs. It's going to be like that sometimes," Gonzalez said. "The Astros are playing really good right now."

Houston is 11-1 in its last 12 games, 13-2 in its last 15, 26-9 in its last 35 and stands at 36-20 since May 1. It's almost as if the scripts have been flipped with the White Sox.

Melky Cabrera could return by Sunday from a right thumb sprain costing him three games, and Justin Morneau should join the team after the All-Star break. But the White Sox don't have the luxury of waiting for reinforcements to prove they are better than average.

"We have to stay within ourselves," Gonzalez said. "We have [Chris] Sale tomorrow. We have a pretty good chance of winning a ballgame, and [Jose] Quintana afterward. We have to keep our heads up and keep grinding."

"You miss Melky. You miss some bullpen guys that are hurt," Ventura said, "but we have to find a way to grind this out. We have to figure out a way to make it work."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.