White Sox play-off prospects bleak after last loss to Guardians

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White Sox playoff prospects bleak after loss to Guardians originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

When asked to describe his team’s overall effort in Wednesday’s game against the Guardians, acting White Sox manager Miguel Cairo had a simple answer.

“We didn’t play well,” Cairo said afterwards. “They played better than us. Simple as that.”

Cairo repeated that point several times in his post-game media session, after the Guardians inflicted an 8-2 loss on the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Cleveland, after winning Tuesday’s series opener, will leave Chicago with no worse than a series win in the crucial match-up with the White Sox – whose playoff prospects look bleak with 13 games left.

The White Sox fell six games behind the Guardians – seven in fact because Cleveland has the tiebreaker in the division. The Guardians’ magic number to win the AL Central is seven.

“We must put it behind us” [us]Cairo said. “We have to come back. I do not give up. They don’t give up.

“We come back [Thursday] and play it again. The season is not over yet. We still have to come and play hard – the way it’s supposed to play.”

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The Sox have 13 games to go and aren’t mathematically out yet, but they should be playing perfect baseball in the next two weeks to catch Cleveland — and that’s in an optimistic scenario.

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Even if the Guardians play about .500 baseball (6-7) over their last 13 games, the White Sox would have to go 13-0 to win the AL Central.

Is it any surprise that they are six games back in the division race so late in the season, especially given the expectations around the team coming in this season?

“Nothing surprises you. Especially when you play like this all year,” said starter Lance Lynn, who gave up six runs (three earned) in six innings on Wednesday.

“We’ve been out six games all year, it seems. We still have some time left, but we pushed ourselves into a hole, that’s for sure.”

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Not only in the division, but also in the wild card race – despite expanding to three teams this season. The Sox are 5 1/2 games behind the Mariners for third, trailing the Orioles, the first team behind Seattle, by 1 1/2 games.

The White Sox’s wildcard elimination number is nine.

After a sloppy 11th inning in Tuesday’s loss against the Guardians, the Sox started poorly on Wednesday. The Guardians scored twice in the first inning, one on a throwing error by third baseman Yoán Moncada.

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The Guardians also scored two infield basehits for Moncada in the first: one on a routine grounder that defeated Cleveland’s Amed Rosario and another grounder that swallowed him.

“I didn’t want to get into the difficult bounce,” Moncada said of the Rosario game. “That was my reading of the groundball. Prepare to step back and try to rush it at the end.”

Moncada’s solo home run in the fourth inning accounted for half of the Sox’s attack, while a fundamentally healthy Guardians team held a baserunning clinic and went from first to third base all night to put up runs.

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Facing Lynn, Triston McKenzie struckout 13 batters in eight innings, giving up six hits and two runs.

The White Sox entered this series and realistically needed a sweep to stay in the AL Central race if not the overall playoff picture. That they lost the first two games, predictably, is a big disappointment.

“Right now it’s a blow to my stomach,” Lynn said. “But we have to come back, try to save tomorrow and then see what we can do for the rest of the year.

“It will never be easy. We pushed ourselves into a hole by not playing as well as we could. We’re still not off. We have a lot of work to do, and we need some help. So it starts with trying to win tomorrow.”

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