CLEVELAND – The White Sox have fallen to their lowest point in six years. Unfortunately, it may not be the bottom.
Jason Giambi's pinch-hit homer leading off the ninth inning against Ramon Troncoso lifted the Cleveland Indians to a 3-2 win Monday night over the Sox, who dropped their fourth straight and lost for the 10th time in 13 games.
A season spiraling downward reached a new level as the Sox fell 23 games below .500 for the first time since 2007.
On top of the losing, the Sox are undergoing change. Before the game, they traded reliever Jesse Crain to Tampa for future considerations, and there's a strong chance starter Jake Peavy could be dealt before Wednesday's deadline. Peavy is scheduled to start Tuesday night.
"It's hard to watch," Danks said of the team's decision to dismantle. "Jesse and I have become good buddies. Jake and I have a real good relationship. I'd love to keep him, but I understand the business. We'll see what happens. I don't follow it real close. I'd love to keep him here and make a run at it, but we don't really know what's going to happen, though."
Batting for Mark Reynolds, Giambi belted a 1-1 pitch from Troncoso (1-3) into the bushes beyond the fence. It was the 436th career homer and ninth career walk-off shot for the popular 42-year-old slugger, who had a bucket of ice water dumped over his head by teammates.
"I might catch pneumonia," he joked. "I'm a little old to be dunked with water. I love it. I've been preaching all year one guy is not more important than another, and it's going to take all 25 of us, even more than that, to win ballgames and we've done it all year. It's just exciting to be a part of it."
According to STATS, Giambi is the oldest player in major league history to hit a walk-off homer, surpassing Hank Aaron, who was 42 days younger than Giambi when he did it in 1976.
"He's been doing that for a while," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's over there for a reason."
The sinking Sox are 18 1/2 games out of first. The non-waiver trading deadline adds another layer of misery.
"You've got to be able to get through it," Ventura said. "It will be better in a couple of days because it will be over. It's stuff you have to deal with every year. It's different this year because they're not in the who-we're-going-to-get stage."
The Sox had a chance to take lead in the ninth when Dayan Viciedo tripled with two outs off Chris Perez (3-1). However, he didn't score when left fielder Michael Brantley made a sensational, running catch of Gordon Beckham's liner for the third out.
"Gordon hits it hard and we don't get anything out of it," Ventura lamented. "Brantley made a nice play."
Giambi's dramatic shot – and postgame bath – provided more memorable snapshots for the Indians, who are making a strong push as August approaches. Cleveland is keeping the pressure on the Tigers as well as injecting themselves into the wild-card discussion.
As he rounded third, Giambi smiled when he saw his teammates awaiting his arrival at the plate. He leaped into their welcome-home party and nearly had his jersey pulled off in the celebration.
"That's what keeps you coming back," Giambi said. "There's no moment more special than when you get that embrace from your teammates and all those smiles. It's exciting."
Danks allowed just two runs and two hits in six innings, but remained winless since July 2 – a span of five starts.
"I felt like I had stuff enough to make it a little deeper in the game," he said. "Command certainly wasn't where it needed to be. I got by with some mistakes. That's a good team over there. It's a tough lineup. I'm sorry we lost this game."
Danks retired 11 straight before walking the first two in the sixth when Cleveland tied it on Asdrubal Cabrera's RBI groundout.
"I wasn't as good as I needed to be," Danks said. "My command was lacking. It caused my pitch count to go up. It cost me a run and here we are."
Blanked by starter Zach McAllister for the first five innings, the White Sox scored twice with two outs in the sixth on Adam Dunn's RBI double and Paul Konerko's run-scoring single.
The runs snapped Cleveland's scoreless streak at 26 innings.
NOTES: Danks got a no-decision and remains winless (0-5) on the road this season. ... White Sox DH Paul Konerko drove in a run in the sixth for his 76th RBI at Progressive Field, the most by a Cleveland opponent. ... Beckham is in an 0-for-20 slump. ... Ventura was traded twice during his career and appreciates the anxiety his players may be feeling. "Sometimes you hear all these rumors about guys going places and nothing ever happens," Ventura said. "Every year you're hearing names fly everywhere and they don't go anywhere. So until it actually happens that's when I believe it." ... The White Sox have scored only five runs during their four-game skid.