Through no effort of their own, the Chicago White Sox are closer to the AL Central division lead than they have been since May after they broke even in a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field over the weekend.
The cooling Detroit Tigers and red-hot Minnesota Twins collided in Minneapolis with the latter winning the four-game series 3-1. This turn of events put the Sox 3.5 games out of first place, but also moved them 1.5 games out of the top of the Wild Card heap.
The Tribe started out on a tear on their visit to the Cell, winning the opener 9-1. Starter Mark Buehrle, who looked to be recovering from a slump a few weeks ago, gave up five runs and 10 hits in the nearly five innings he spent on the mound. The most notable event of the night for the White Sox offense, which didn’t even produce a hit until the bottom of the fifth, was a baserunning mistake by Jermaine Dye that gave Cleveland an easy double play and killed a Chicago rally.
Game 2, a 7-6 Sox win, wasn’t much better. Chicago took a two-run edge into the ninth inning, only to see it blown in a mere seven pitches from usually reliable closer Bobby Jenks. Three doubles off of Jenks scored three Indians players, and the Sox were down a run in the bottom of the frame. Fortunately, A.J. Pierzynski bailed out the team with a clutch two-run dinger.
The next game, probably the White Sox’ finest performance of the series, came close to being one of the most embarrassing of the entire year for the team. Dye, Juan Uribe and Paul Konerko (twice) homered to give the Sox a 10-1 lead by the sixth, when Jon Garland was relieved.
However, relievers Boone Logan, Brandon McCarthy and Dustin Hermanson nearly blew it for the Sox, giving up seven runs in the top of the seventh. Fortunately, Mike MacDougal and Matt Thornton shut out the Tribe in the final two innings to allow the Sox to hang on for a 10-8 win.
Game 4 started out well for the South Siders. Indians starter C.C. Sabathia gave up hits to the first two batters he faced, one of which was a two-run homer from Tadahito Iguchi. But Sabathia shut down the Sox’ offense after that. Meanwhile, Cleveland evened it up in the sixth inning, then pulled ahead in the ninth for a 5-2 victory thanks to a homer from Victor Martinez and a bases-loaded walk from reliever Brandon McCarthy.
In spite of their mediocre play, the Sox still like their chances for making the playoffs this year.
“All we really need is for Detroit to keep dropping games down the stretch,” Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I really think the Tigers can keep this momentum going. Their record over the past decade speaks for itself. These guys are proven [expletive deleted] losers. But I sure do admire those Twins.”
Number of the Weekend: 4
Sox players who might finish the season with more than 100 RBIs. Two players—Dye and Konerko—have already made it.