White Sox manager Robin Ventura had plenty of reasons to want to come home Friday, starting with a 3-7 road trip that left the team with a 7-9 record overall and nursing physical wounds.
U.S. Cellular Field, where the Sox are 4-2, would have looked good even in the cold, though the weather led to a postponement of Friday's opener against the Minnesota Twins.
The difference in the road Sox and the home Sox is an example of a team with a strange dichotomy as the season begins.
They hit home runs but don't hit with men on base.
They pitch well at the back end of games but have had their problems with starters.
The offense is having problems getting on track while the defense that led the majors in 2012 is sputtering near the bottom of the league.
The Sox rank fourth in the American League in home runs (19), but the long ball has accounted for 30 of the team's 57 total runs. It's because the Sox are hitting only .177 (17-96) with runners in scoring position. That was a strength for last season's Sox, who ranked fifth in hitting with runners in scoring position (.272). It contributed to 748 runs scored, fourth best in the league.
The Sox as a team are hitting only .234, with the early going particularly tough on some expected run producers--Adam Dunn (.105, two home runs, five RBI); Dayan Viciedo (.229, two homers, five RBI) and Tyler Flowers (.205, three homers, seven RBI).
But Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez are having a hot April. Rios is hitting .344 while ranking in the top 10 in several offensive categories, including homers (tied for third with five), slugging percentage (fourth at .684) and steals (tied for eighth with three.)
``That's why he's batting third,'' Ventura said. ``He was that way last year. He's a very good player and does a lot of things for us [including] playing great outfield.''
Ramirez is having the best April of his career, hitting .327 compared to his career .222 for the month.
The loss of second baseman Gordon Beckham (hamate bone surgery) has hurt the offense, as it has the defense. Beckham was hitting .316 when he suffered the injury in the first game of the road trip against the Washington Nationals.
The Sox bullpen in general, and closer Addison Reed in particular, has done well.
The relief corps leads the league with a 1.74 ERA and a .177 opponents batting average. Reed has a 1.29 ERA with a 1-0 record and perfect five-for-five mark in saves.
The starters continue to post quality starts--getting into the later innings of games--but have had to work in many close games (16 of the team's 14 games have been decided by three or less runs.)
Gavin Floyd has had the most difficulties (6.32 ERA, .344 opponents batting average) while Jose Quintana has sparkled (2.55 ERA, .209 opponents batting average.)
The Sox were the best defensive team in baseball last season, leading all teams with a .9883 mark (just ahead of the Seattle Mariners at .9880). Their 70 errors were the fewest in baseball and also set a new franchise record. As a result, the team allowed the fewest unearned runs (30) in the majors.
But defense is hurting so far in April, with the Sox tied at 11th in the league. They already have committed 13 errors in 16 games contributing to seven unearned runs.
NOTES: Dayan Viciedo will be day to day for now after suffering a left oblique strain Thursday in Toronto. He was receiving treatment Friday.
--Ventura will push back the starters in the wake of Friday's cancelation, with Jake Peavy (2-1, 3.41 ERA) to start Saturday opposing Vance Worley (0-2, 10.50 ERA). Floyd (0-3, 6.32 ERA) will pitch Sunday against lefthander Scott Diamond (0-1, 8.31 ERA).
---Friday's canceled game was the sixth postponement because of cold weather in U.S. Cellular Field history. The last was also against the Twins on April 10, 2008.
No makeup date was set.
Fans holding tickets to Friday's game should retain them until a makeup date is determined.