Virtually nobody predicted the White Sox would be in this position as late August is looming. And with only two games separating the South Siders and the defending champion Tigers in the loss column, Chicago can not afford to drop any series to an inferior team.
And for that reason, the Kansas City Royals must be beaming with pride tonight. They may be 12 games out of first place and playing out the string, but nobody is winning the division because they are pushovers.
Not even Adam Dunn's home run that pulled the White Sox within one in the eighth could save them. The Royals torched Chicago's pitching. Alcides Escobar got four hits by himself. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler got three apiece.
Mike Moustakas clubbed the backbreaking homer in the eighth to put the game away, 5-2, and make a winner out of ancient Bruce Chen.
Now the only positive aspect to the White Sox trip will be visiting the local barbecue places. Even if Chicago's Jose Quintana throws a perfect game tomorrow, the best that could come of it would be preventing a sweep from a team playing for nothing but pride.
And tomorrow's pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, has pitched quite well since coming over to Kansas City from Colorado in the Jonathan Sanchez trade. The finale is no lock for the White Sox either.
When pennant races are close and decided late, fans tend to focus on the final games as the biggest and most important factors of the ultimate outcome.
If the White Sox lose the division by a single game, they can look back at this trip to Kansas City as wins that got away.
No doubt, the Royals could take pride in shaping the pennant race.
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