CHICAGO -- At the 51-game mark of a 162-game season, the White Sox believe it's still too early to talk about missed opportunities within the American League Central. Instead, they take a quick glance at the division standings and look with some wonderment at the team being only 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers and three behind the Indians.
"The good news is we are only 4 1/2 games out. How? I don't know. But we are," White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn said. "Of course, if we don't play better, we've got no shot."
Entering Thursday's contest at Wrigley Field, the White Sox ranked 14th in the AL in batting average and average with runners in scoring position and 15th in runs per game, runs scored and on-base percentage. Their defense has been suspect as a whole, and they've lost right-hander Gavin Floyd for the season and left-hander John Danks, second baseman Gordon Beckham and left fielder Dayan Viciedo for significant blocks of time.
To still be as close to the top as they are gives the White Sox a sense of hope. Then again, the question to be answered by general manager Rick Hahn, manager Robin Ventura and the players is whether the Tigers really are catchable.
"It's 4 1/2 games separating us. That doesn't seem like they are that much better than us," Dunn said. "I don't think they were that much better than us last year or we were that much better than them last year."
"We have scuffled the last couple of days, but that's going to happen," White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale said. "Our overall team standing shouldn't be looked at as just the last couple of days. Before those two days, we played very good baseball. We just had a hiccup there."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.