Ten games left...two game advantage in the loss column...two struggling teams...who will win the American League Central race?
The Chicago White Sox have struggled mightily since losing the once-assumed AL MVP in Carlos Quentin to a self-inflicted wrist injury 19 days ago (September 1st). Since that day, the White Sox have gone a paltry 7-8, while also losing team captain Paul Konerko for a week during that stretch.
Coming off a series in New York where they lost three out of four to the Yankees, the White Sox now head to Kansas City for a crucial three game set with a last place ball club that has won seven games in a row.
The only Saving Grace for the White Sox has been the equally terrible play of their only competition, the Minnesota Twins. In the same stretch the Twins have gone 6-10, though a five run ninth inning rally against the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of that four game set made the race even tighter. The White Sox lead is now down to a 1.5 games.
There is no doubt that this weekend will set the tone for Monday's White Sox-Twins matchup at the Metrodome, where either team could be leading the division. This race will go down to the wire and with both teams' bullpens struggling, it's anyone's guess who will come out on top.
If the race were tied right now, I'd say it's a toss-up, but with a 1.5 game lead the White Sox obviously have a distinct advantage, as well as the experience to get it done when it matters the most. At worst, the Sox have home field advantage if the two clubs finish the season with a tied record given their win of a coin toss last week.
I suspect that the White Sox will win this division. Jermaine Dye will have to step up and start hitting for the power he did earlier in this season. It seems the White Sox have officially gone to a four man rotation with Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, and Javier Vazquez getting the most work.
In the American League's most important division race (the Wild Card is out of the question), look for the White Sox to clinch with 91 wins.