The Chicago White Sox have 14 games left to play in the 2008 season including one makeup game against the Tigers(Mother Nature wouldn’t facilitate this past weekend). The South Siders look to make the playoffs for the first time since their 2005 World Series campaign.
Down the stretch the White Sox will be without Joe Crede, Jose Contreras, Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko. However, despite all these injuries they still find themselves in control of their own destinies down the stretch.
The Twins will play hard right down to the last out of the season, so the White Sox need to stay sharp.The veterans need to produce early and let the young guys take over with their gloves in the latter innings. Maintaining leads seems to be the hump the Sox need to get over to make a serious push. That falls on the shoulders of the bullpen.
The Good: Jermaine Dye. He’s having another stellar year overshadowed slightly by the year Carlos Quentin put together, but Dye remains a rock in the Sox lineup. He’s stepped up his defensive play and become an even more patient hitter at the plate.
The Bad: The bullpen. Just last night the bullpen squandered a seven run lead and if it weren’t for the late inning heroics of Dewayne Wise, the Sox would probably have lost the nightcap. They need to play consistently to match what the starters are putting up. Scott Linebrink still looks like he’s shaking the rust off but the rest of the bullpen need to get themselves right between their ears if the Sox expect to make a push in October.
The Ugly: The Sox have an important three game set up in Minnesota where they have not played well this season. Taking two out of three is the best case scenario at the moment. Unless the Twins implode, the Sox will have to win in that series.
The Difference: 7-9 hitters. The tail end of the order need to produce, meaning on-base-percentage and RBIs. The bats of Uribe, Swisher, Hall, and Griffey need to get hot. If they don’t, then teams will pitch around Dye, Thome, Ramirez to get to the end of the lineup. Situational hitting from the 7-9 spots needs to be priority. Let 3-5 hitters worry about the long-ball.
We can’t wait/hope for Quentin and Konerko to be ready to play. We need to use what we have the best way we can. And for all the disappointments and close games the Sox have had, they're still in first place.
The end of the line doesn’t get any easier with series at New York and Minnesota before closing the season at home against the Indians.
The White Sox have played well against the contenders in the AL. Therefore, if the Sox can maintain their edge in the Central then they have a great shot at going deep into the playoffs.