(670 The Score) With the White Sox in their most concerning slump of a breakout season, veteran first baseman and American League MVP candidate Jose Abreu admitted Wednesday that his team relaxed a bit after clinching a playoff berth last Thursday.
Since then, the White Sox have lost five of their past six games, including four in a row. The last two losses came by virtue of the Indians hitting walk-off homers Tuesday and Wednesday. The White Sox are now 34-22, which is a half-game behind the AL Central-leading Twins (35-22).
“This is a new challenge for us,” Abreu said before the White Sox lost 3-2 to the Indians on Wednesday. “I think this is what we needed to happen and this moment should make us better. I think starting today, you will see a very different team than the one we have been. I think you will see a better team than you saw before. It is very important to make this a challenge and a big learning process for us to go forward into the postseason. It's just another opportunity for us to get better.”
What was once a carefree and easygoing attitude for the White Sox has turned more somber amid their tough stretch.
“It's pretty rough," ace Lucas Giolito said after the loss Wednesday. “Getting beat two nights in a row with walk-off home runs is not a good feeling. We need to put it behind us and come out and win (Thursday). We have to go out and right the ship and get ready for the playoffs.”
Giolito remains confident the White Sox can regain their strong form. Their best play of the season has come against some of MLB’s worst teams, as the White Sox have gone 18-2 against the Tigers (22-32) and Royals (23-33) this season. The White Sox are just 2-7 against the Indians.
"We need to play the baseball we know we can play,” Giolito said. “For us, that means going out and being loose and having fun. We know there will be pressure, but we must embrace that not let it get to us. We can hit that level again, but it will take us playing loose and relaxed again. That was what we were doing all year, and we were winning a lot of games that way. We need to attack the day and be able to say again we know how good we are. If we can retain that mentality again, we will be in a good spot.”
Manager Rick Renteria wasn’t about to hit the panic button, pointing out the White Sox’s last two losses to the Indians were “good ballgames” in which one play made the difference. He met with his team prior to the loss Wednesday to discuss the team’s struggles.
“They can't afford to drop their heads and feel sorry for themselves,” Renteria said of his players. “They are feeling as you do when professionals lose. They need to leave that game in the clubhouse and get ready for the next one.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.