CHICAGO -- With a stretch of five straight losses entering Monday's series-opening 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Indians, it's easy to forget that the White Sox remain atop the American League Central and actually hold a one-game lead over the Tigers with nine games to play.
Designated hitter Adam Dunn issued a reminder to his teammates and anyone else who was listening before the last 2012 homestand began, and then backed up his words by bashing two homers and driving in four runs.
"You can't worry about what other teams are doing. We are in first place," Dunn said. "That's what people are still forgetting. We are in first place.
"If we win as many games as we can and we play well, we will make the playoffs. When you have a lead, you don't have to scoreboard watch. It's nice if we win and they lose, but if we win them all and they win them all, guess who goes?
"We just have to take a step back and relax," Dunn said. "We have to realize we are in first place and in a really, really good position."
Dunn was in the throes of a 2-for-21 slump over his last six games and said that he had trouble seeing the baseball over the weekend in Anaheim. He made some minor mechanical adjustments prior to Sunday's series finale and knocked out a double and walked in four plate appearances, before delivering the game-winning, three-run shot off Vinnie Pestano in the eighth inning Monday.
That slump certainly isn't the only one among White Sox hitters, as Paul Konerko is 5-for-29 in his last eight games and Kevin Youkilis is 5-for-30 in his last eight. Those funks are as much a function of trying to do too much to keep the White Sox in first as they are a matter of feeling the pressure of the pennant race.
"There's no pressure. What's going to happen is going to happen," Dunn said. "You start tensing up and I think that's what a lot of people are doing. A lot of people want to do so well and they are trying so hard, me included, that you stink. You can't try so hard in this game because if you start doing that, you are going to try to do stuff you are not capable of doing. It just doesn't work that way."
"Again, you have to win games no matter what," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't think either team's going to lose all the rest of its games. For me, just continue to play, be ready, be prepared. You're not going to always play well. You hope to, but the effort when they show up, the work they put in, the way they play, that's really what you're looking for."