"Kenny is [upset]," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Sunday, one day after a telephone conversation with general manager Ken Williams. "That's it. Kenny is real [upset]. Like everybody is."
Guillen wasn't around for most of it—he was ejected by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez in the third inning after arguing a checked swing by Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay, who broke his hand when struck by a pitch from starter John Danks. Guillen argued that Overbay swung at the pitch. Overbay is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
"That's pretty embarrassing," Guillen said of the Sox's struggles. "You're not going to win games like that. I think people have forgotten how bad we are offensively because of the way the bullpen is throwing. We don't help the bullpen either."
The hitless streak against relievers ended when A.J. Pierzynski led off the ninth with a double, but he was stranded at third when Rob Mackowiak popped out and pinch-hitter Alex Cintron struck out. The Sox were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Management's patience has been tested in the midst of a string of 34 games against opponents with sub-.500 records, which continues Monday night against the New York Yankees.
"I don't think we played this bad in the past," Guillen said, recalling three previous years as Sox manager and 13 as their shortstop. "As a player either."
Williams spent the last week evaluating the Sox's minor leagues and could promote at least two relievers. The Sox have a spot open on their 40-man roster, so they could call up Bret Prinz or Ryan Bukvich.
Nick Masset became the latest reliever to fall under scrutiny. He allowed three runs after two outs with nobody on base in Sunday's sixth inning, wiping out a 3-1 lead.
Masset (7.11 ERA) joins struggling relievers Mike MacDougal (7.13) and David Aardsma (6.18) on a list of candidates for Triple-A Charlotte. MacDougal could be optioned to avoid a hometown crowd that could barbecue him over his 17 walks in 17 2/3 innings.
The latest developments concluded a 1-6 trip, equaling the Sox's worst trip of seven games or more since 2003.
With MacDougal as the only reliever with more than three years experience, some growing pains were expected this season. But the collective slump by a veteran lineup has left Guillen and his staff baffled.
"They've hit before," Guillen said. "I think they're still competing, but they're not doing it. We ask them if they need extra hitting, if they need more work, less work. We try everything. Nothing is working."
In the last seven games, the Sox are 12-for-115 (.104) with four runs from the fifth inning on. They also had gone 34 innings without hitting a homer until Mackowiak's solo shot in the second.
With each loss, the sense of urgency becomes greater.
"Let's face it," designated hitter Jim Thome said. "If we win two or three games and gain a game here and there, we can get back to four or 4 1/2 games out. We have  games left. That's the reality of what's ahead of us."
Thome hit his first home run since May 22 in the third inning.
The Sox won't play an opponent with a winning record until July 6, when they start a four-game series against Minnesota before the All-Star break.
Their recent stretch against lower-tier teams includes the 26-time world-champion Yankees, who have postponed Monday night's return of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens because of a fatigued groin.
"I want him to pitch," Guillen said. "I want people to forget how bad we're playing, at least for a day. I was prepared to answer questions about Clemens pitching, and now it's going to be, 'Why are you guys playing so [lousy]?'
"I'm done now. I'm the one who's going to pay the price. I'm going to call Joe Torre and ask him, 'Why don't you pitch this guy? You don't do me any good.' Now I have to deal with the media asking me about the White Sox, not Clemens."