Having seemingly shaken off their midsummer nightmare, the Chicago White Sox reasserted their reputation as a powerhouse against two of the league’s other elite teams last week.
The Sox managed to take two of three games—each of which was decided by a single run—from the AL East-leading New York Yankees in their series last week. As if that wasn’t enough, the Sox later swept the Detroit Tigers, their main division rivals (sorry Minnesota), in a series at U.S. Cellular Field this weekend.
The South Siders needed a good series against the Tigers and they got it, owing largely to some really solid performances on the mound from some improbable contributors.
In the series opener, the Sox started pitcher Jose Contreras, who’d dropped four of his last five. However, he threw pretty well for a guy in a slump, blanking the Tigers with a three-hit complete game shutout. Meanwhile, Tigers rookie sensation Justin Verlander gave up two-run homers to Jim Thome and A.J. Pierzynski in the fifth as the Sox coasted to a 5-0 win.
Sox fans had to be worried when Mark Buerhle, who had lost seven straight games, started Saturday against Detroit’s All-Star Kenny Rogers.
Yet Buerhle fared quite well, matching Rogers inning-for-inning. The game was scoreless through the first four, and while Buerhle did give up three runs in the fifth, so did Rogers and the Tigers’ error-prone fielders. The Sox added another run in the seventh to break the tie, and ended up winning 4-3.
Game 3 was another walloping for the Detroit Pussycats. This time it was Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia, who hadn’t won in over a month, getting the nod for the start. Garcia put a stop to that skid, holding the Tigers to three runs through seven innings. Chicago’s bats managed to pound out 11 hits for seven runs in the Sox’ 7-3 victory, which “only” included one dinger from the home team.
After sweeping the Tigers in a surprisingly Jon Garland-free series, the White Sox cut gap between first and second place in the AL Central to five-and-a-half games. The wretched weekend was summed up nicely for visiting Detroit when irate star catcher Ivan Rodriguez got booted by umpire Tim Timmons in the eighth for complaining about a strikeout call.
“Ha ha, deal with it, I-Roc,” yelled drunken Sox fan Darrell Toltovitch, who had apparently confused the player with his “really bitching” 1986 Camaro—which, incidentally, was stolen from Lot C at that very moment.
Number of the Day: 3
Teams with more than 70 wins as of Sunday night. Two of them—the Tigers and the Sox—are in the AL Central.
Number of the Day, Part II: 3
Teams Thome has hit more than 35 homers in a season for, making him seventh player to do so.
Number of the Day, Part III: 3
Series in which the Sox have beaten the Tigers this season. Eat it, Detroit!