I took off for New York right before the White Sox series began with the Yankees in the last series between the two at Yankee Stadium. In hopes of showing the White Sox the support their fan base has been giving them all year, I decided this was the best way to show them who they had supporting them. Eh, who am I kidding, I went for selfish reasons, to view the cathedral of baseball known as Yankee Stadium before it’s doors were locked, never to be opened again. And maybe the selfishness wore off on the White Sox because their play from there to the final weekend of the series wasn’t worthy of a spot in the playoffs. And it brought out the worst in some players.
But Monday night brought me out of hibernation as the White Sox showed that they not only belong in the playoffs, they want to be there.
The White Sox had won just 11 of their last 29 games in what became a divisional race down to the last game of the season. But the White Sox would have to take it a step further, win the last game of the season, in order to play another game. And they did just that.
The White Sox scored a run in the first inning, but had little answers for Detroit’s starter Freddy Garcia, a key part to the pitching rotation of the 2005 White Sox World Series team. But the biggest moment of the game came when Garcia left in the 6th inning with a shoulder injury, after allowing only 2 hits. Okay, the second biggest moment was that.
It was Alexi Ramirez who became the story with his 6th inning grand-slam that broke a 2-2 tie, delivering the blow that the Tigers couldn’t come back from.
“Nice, Very nice,” Ramirez said after the game. It was his 4th grand slam of the year, a major league record for a rookie.
And Gavin Floyd, pitching on short rest, won his 17th game of the season to give the Sox an 8-2 win. "He admitted he was nervous, which was good because if you're not nervous in that situation, there's something wrong with you," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He didn't have his best stuff but he battled and made pitches when he had to get through it."
So the Sox force a one-game, win or go home, playoff game with the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field, with the grand-prize of a trip to Tampa Bay to face the Rays in the first round of the playoffs. While the White Sox were just swept by the Twins last week, they are 7-2 against them in Chicago.
MATCHUP FOR TUESDAYS GAME:
Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox
U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago, Illinois)
6:30 P.M. CT
A grinding 162 game season wasn’t enough to determine who could win more games (or lose less at some points in the season), so it comes down to game 163. Both teams will have only one scoreboard to look at, the one describing the game on the field.
The White Sox are less than a week removed from being swept by the Minnesota Twins in Minnesota in a three game series. But that series may provide the extra motivation the White Sox need to edge the Twins on Tuesday. "Seeing them celebrate on their field after they swept us, they kind of celebrated like they won the World Series," said White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, during a Monday morning interview with hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "A little payback would be sweet.
And Minnesota has just 2 wins in 9 attempts this season at U.S. Cellular. Nick Blackburn (11-10 4.14 ERA) will pitch for the Twins, while John Danks (11-9 3.47 ERA goes for the White Sox). Danks hasn’t pitched well against Minnesota this year, going 1-1 with a 7.91 ERA, while Blackburn isn’t much better against the Sox, going 2-2 with a 5.67 ERA
162 games will be wrapped into one, with the victor of the game on Tuesday advancing to St. Petersburg, Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Rays, while the other team’s next game will a meaningless pre-season game in early March.