Chicago White Sox: Running the Table May Not Be Enough to Win AL Central
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Even running the table may not prove to be enough to win the division outright.
Chicago closed the gap to a single game after beating Tampa Bay, 3-1. Coupled with Detroit's 4-2 loss in Minnesota, the White Sox came up with a crucial victory to keep some pressure on the Tigers.
The White Sox picked up the win behind Gavin Floyd, Alex Rios and the bullpen. Rios homered and scored two of Chicago's three runs. He had three hits on the night. The bottom of the order factored into this one as well.
Alexei Ramirez knocked in Rios to pad the lead with two outs in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Gordon Beckham had a pair of hits and scored Chicago's first run.
Floyd pitched just five innings, tossing a gopher ball to Ben Zobrist and walking five batters. He went to the showers with a 2-1 lead, which was preserved by five White Sox relievers. Jesse Crain took the game into the eighth. Nate Jones stranded two runners put on by Crain and Matt Thornton.
Donnie Veal and Addison Reed handled the ninth as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and halved the deficit they currently face with less than a week to play in the 2012 season.
How many games does Chicago have to win to have a shot at the AL Central title?
I can't realistically believe that the White Sox can come out on top of the division with less than four wins over Tampa Bay and in Cleveland. Justin Verlander is going Saturday against the Twins. Despite Max Scherzer being hampered by a shoulder injury, the Tigers have gotten good starts from Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez.
It may be a pipe dream to hope for the Tigers to drop even two games in their final five. On the other hand, Detroit is now 8-8 against Minnesota. The Twins are the only team in the AL Central that the Tigers haven't owned this season.
For the White Sox to overtake Detroit, however, they are going to have to handle their own business and not expect the Tigers to botch up the remainder of their schedule. Meanwhile, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana will start the final two home games against the Rays.
Quintana, who has struggled in several starts this month, draws David Price Sunday. Tough task, but at this point, the White Sox have to find a way to come out ahead of one of the league's best arms.
That's because, for Chicago, every game has to be considered as a must win.
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