CHICAGO -- After a month-long slide, the Chicago White Sox have seeming started to figure out how to win again as the little things that plagued them during their slump have again started to come around.
A White Sox offense that had been struggling to score runs has put up at least five runs four times in the past week before being shut out by the Minnesota Twins 4-0 Tuesday night. Sluggers who had been failing to come through in key moments are producing timely hits and a bullpen that had been an Achilles heel has started to settle into place.
But whether the White Sox can build off their recent success remains the big question. Chicago again dipped below .500 with its loss Tuesday and appeared to be building momentum before losing to the Twins for the first time this season.
"We're a .500 team right and I think that's not all bad because we started the season very hot and then we suddenly struggled," first baseman Jose Abreu said before Tuesday's loss "(Being .500) is good because we've been in good and bad stretches and have been able to survive."
The Twins have struggled to do that, struggling the entire year before being more stringing together double-digit wins this month for the first time this season. But after finally notching a win against the White Sox Tuesday night, manager Paul Molitor knows his team still has a lot of work left to do.
"We have to find a way to kind of make these games more competitive against some of these teams in our division," Molitor said Tuesday. "...I hope the guys take it a little bit personal."
The White Sox, who had won five of their last seven games before Tuesday's loss, will try to get back on the winning track when struggling starter James Shields faces the Twins on Wednesday looking for his first win in a Chicago uniform.
Shields is 0-2 in four starts with the White Sox with an 18.73 ERA (34 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings pitched).
"There's really no reason for it," Shields told the Chicago Tribune recently. "I'm not one to make excuses. I just move forward and try to attack the hitters the way I know how to attack them and just kind of move on and try get some W's for this team."
With ace Chris Sale cruising along and with Jose Quintana still struggling to get much run support as was the case again Tuesday, Shields reversing his course may be key for Chicago in its efforts to try and keep pace with the first-place Cleveland Indians.
Yet, as hot as the Indians have been, manager Robin Ventura said Tuesday his team can't afford to start tracking the success of others. Not when it's got its own issues with consistency to solve.
"We have to continue to focus on what we're doing and control that," Ventura said. "I think the effort and what we're doing, I like where we're at."