All good plans have a backup plan—something to fall back on in case the master plan doesn't go right.
For the White Sox, their master plan is to beat out the Minnesota Twins and win the AL Central. However, their backup plan to get them into October is the wild card, and that's why this weekend's series in Boston against the Red Sox is so important.
Going into the series, the White Sox sit 1.5 games ahead of the Twins, who are on a 14-game road trip, thanks to the Republican National Convention, in the American League Central. However, they would be one-game back of the Red Sox for the wild card, if they would need it.
There's no telling what will happen in the last month of the season—knowing the Twins, they could go on some ridiculous run and blow past the White Sox to win the division. The White Sox still have three games left with the Twins, and they will be played in the dreaded Metrodome.
In 2003, 2004, and 2006, the White Sox and Twins went head-to-head for the division—and every year, the Twins beat out the White Sox.
I'm not saying that winning the division won't happen—I mean, the Sox are currently 1.5 games up on a scuffling Minnesota team that has lost five of their last six. However, the White Sox need a contingency plan in case Chicago gets hit by Hurricane Gardenhire.
This three-game series in Boston will go a long way towards helping the White Sox's cause for making the playoffs. Boston has been dominant at home this year, coming into their series with the White Sox with a 43-18 record at Fenway Park.
However, they aren't without their problems—namely, Josh Beckett, who was scratched from his start Friday due to a lingering "tingling" feeling in his elbow. He will see Dr. James Andrews—baseball's most famous surgeon—for an evaluation on his arm.
If the Red Sox are left without Beckett down the stretch, it will stretch a pitching staff that hasn't been as good as advertised this year.
Thanks to Beckett's arm issues, Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-2) will have his start pushed to Friday, and rookie David Pauley (0-0) will make his second start of the season on Saturday. In his first start Apr. 22, he allowed five earned runs in 4.1 innings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Red Sox will close the series out with knuckleballing Tim Wakefield (8-8).
The White Sox will run Javier Vazquez (10-11), Mark Buehrle (11-10), and Gavin Floyd (14-6) out against Boston. Vazquez has looked very good in his last three starts, but Friday likely is the game where the White Sox match up the worst in the series. If they can take Saturday and Sunday's games, and the series, it will be huge for this team down the stretch.
If you need a distraction from the game Saturday, though, switch your TV over to ESPN at 7:30 PM (CDT) to watch a great college football showdown between No. 6 Missouri and No. 20 Illinois at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO.
Missouri won the game 40-34 last year, and Illinois was the first of two BCS Bowl teams that Mizzou beat in 2007 (with Kansas being the other one). However, they didn't make a BCS Bowl, even though their only two losses were to BCS teams.
But whatever, I'm not bitter—my picture on this site is of me taking a short break from watching Tony Temple run all over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl like he was...um...Darren McFadden?
Sorry, that had nothing to do with baseball, the wild card, or anything in this article. I just had to get a dig in for my school before the season started. Fight Tigers!