Work in Sports
Thomas, White Sox slump at the wrong time
SEATTLE (AP) -- Frank Thomas probably won't remember the 95 wins the Chicago White posted in the regular season. More likely, the number zero will stick in his mind.
"I've been wanting this for seven years," he said after his White Sox were swept by the Seattle Mariners in their AL playoff series Friday. "This is the only thing I'm missing in my career -- to get to the top."
The White Sox finished the regular season with the best record in the AL at 95-67 and also scored a major league-leading 978 runs. Along the way, Thomas put up MVP-candidate numbers: .328 with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs.
But in three games against the Mariners, the White Sox scored just seven times on 17 hits, for an average of 2.3 runs a game, well below their regular-season average of just over six runs. None of those hits belonged to Thomas.
"Oh-for-9 with no strikeouts," he said after Seattle clinched the series with a 2-1 win. "I'm just not swinging a hot bat, and it hurt us."
Thomas' teammates in the heart of the batting order weren't much help. In the series, Chicago's 3-6 hitters were 4-42 (.095).
Seattle's bullpen may have had something to do with it. Mariners relievers allowed three hits and zero runs in 11 2-3 innings.
"I don't think you can give them anything less than a '10.' You can't ask for any more than that," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said.
"It was great pitching on both sides," said veteran Harold Baines, Chicago's No. 5 hitter Friday. "The offense didn't do the job they did all year."
"They hit the ball hard, but it seems like it was always stopped by one of our guys," he said. "I think it took a lot out them."
Thomas offered another explanation for the lack of hitting by both teams Friday: the shadows, which shifted from home plate toward the mound as the game went on.
"That's the worst in baseball I've ever seen," Thomas said. "Every guy that came to first base said the same thing."
He said Chicago's a better team and he's a better hitter during night games, but all three games in the series were during the day.
Chicago manager Jerry Manuel agreed: "Seems like we're not a very good day team," he said. "Some shadows might have had something to do with that, but they pitched us well."
Nevertheless, Thomas and his teammates say they accomplished a lot this season, beating expectations especially considering their modest $32 million payroll.
"We made a name for ourselves. People now are going to start to respect us," White Sox starter James Baldwin said.
"This is the worst feeling for a bunch of guys that had the year that we had," shortstop Jose Valentin added.