"In the course of a season, you are going to have a couple of tough games, tough weeks and even a tough month," said White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye. "We just had a tough month, but you take the good with the bad, and the bad with the good."
Ask most people close to the White Sox about the "bad" from this past month, and they would point to an inconsistent offense. Truth be told, the White Sox haven't exactly featured explosive firepower even during the best of times in 2005, but they seemed to find enough clutch run production to post the American League's best record.
Up until this most recent four-game set in Texas, the hitting was neither clutch nor very prevalent in August. Chicago's regular starting nine, including the recently activated Scott Podsednik, hit a combined .248 during August.
They knocked out a combined 64 extra-base hits, but walked just 44 times and finished with 143 strikeouts. Their total of 91 runs scored over 27 games, without factoring in contributions from the bench players, put extra pressure on the stellar White Sox staff.
"That's what made us successful early on. We were consistent," said center fielder Aaron Rowand. "We didn't score a ton of runs, but we scored four or five runs per night. We didn't do it this last month.
"We didn't get the job done, and that's all there is to it," Rowand added.
Rowand drove in 16 runs during August, second only to Paul Konerko's total of 17, with Konerko also leading the way with nine home runs. Podsednik, battling a strained left adductor muscle, hit .211 with seven runs scored, while Joe Crede had one of the roughest periods of his career, with a .103 mark (6-for-58), and his one home run serving as his only RBI.
This team's success is not predicated on big offensive numbers. But the White Sox hitters know August's dog days have to lead to a big finish for the team to reach its goals.
"No scoreboard watching," Dye said. "[We'll] just do what we know we are capable of doing."
Change of pace: Following his first Major League victory during the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader, Brandon McCarthy was presented with a signed lineup card and the traditional beer shower from fellow starters Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland.
"It was probably the best feeling ever," McCarthy said. "It was refreshing because it was hot as [heck]."
Also refreshing for McCarthy and the White Sox was his solid use of the changeup. McCarthy estimated throwing 30 or 40 changes, which were 30 or 40 more than he threw during his last start against Texas in late May. McCarthy realizes that featuring his changeup is essential to his success, as he is unable to rely on blowing 90-mph fastballs by the opposing hitters.
The 22 year old joked that if he had Bobby Jenks' stuff, he wouldn't have to worry about the change. But a more complete repertoire, along with his delivery coming over the top, could make McCarthy an important weapon during the season's final weeks.
"I could tell the difference when before if I threw a fastball, it was getting fouled off hard or getting hit," said McCarthy, who credits Juan Nieves, the pitching coach for Triple-A Charlotte, in facilitating the change. "Now, it gets fouled off straight back. I was throwing right.
"But I need to throw the changeup early [and] often. [I need to] get it over and establish it. Once I do that, the pace of the game picks up, and we can work the others in."
Quick healer? Crede can't make any guarantees in terms of his return to the active roster on Sept. 10, when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. But Crede is hopeful that extensive daily treatment will help the fracture at the tip of the middle finger on his right hand heal enough to where he can once again contribute in the field and at the plate.
"I hope so, but I can't predict the future," Crede said. "It's still swollen, and it's still pretty tender.
"It's something where I'm receiving treatment every day, all day long, and we are doing the most we can for it. All you can do is sit back and wait for the swelling to go down and the feeling to come back in the finger."
New arrivals: The White Sox plan on adding catcher Raul Casanova, first baseman Ross Gload and left-handed reliever David Sanders from Charlotte when rosters officially expand to 40 on Thursday. Switch-hitting outfielder Joe Borchard, outfielder Brian Anderson and right-handed reliever Jeff Bajenaru will join the team on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Anderson and Bajenaru were both reassigned to Charlotte earlier this week and have to stay down for 10 days or until the respective Minor League season ends before returning to the Majors. The Knights' 2005 campaign closes out on Monday.
A space will have to be made for either Casanova or Sanders on the 40-man roster, with the White Sox currently sitting at 39. It appears that both catcher/third baseman Jamie Burke and reliever Jon Adkins were passed over as reserves for the stretch drive.
Down on the farm: Casey Rogowski and Jerry Owens were both named to the Southern League postseason All-Star team. Rogowski has a .289 average with eight home runs, 71 RBIs and 18 stolen bases for Double-A Birmingham, while Owens is hitting .337 with 52 RBIs, 95 runs scored and a team-high 34 stolen bases.
Leo Daigle knocked out three hits and drove in his 106th run as part of Class A Winston-Salem's 10-5 loss to Kinston. Noah Hall drove in two, giving him 88 RBIs, while Robert Valido picked up stolen base No. 42.
Coming soon: Jose Contreras (9-7, 4.07 ERA) will try on Thursday to improve on his 5-2 record and 3.72 ERA since the All-Star break when he opens the White Sox four-game home series against Detroit. Right-hander Sean Douglass (5-2, 5.58 ERA) will oppose Contreras.