If you’re feeling déjà vu after watching Sunday Night Baseball, you aren’t all that far off. Once again, the Chicago White Sox had a chance to distance themselves from the Detroit Tigers and failed to win a game. The division race has been restarted, as the White Sox and Tigers sit in a tie atop the American League central.
It has been a division that neither team really seems to be able to take a hold of, including the White Sox, who have sat at the top of the division for much of the season.
It all started early on Friday night, when Miguel Cabrera took Jake Peavy deep, way deep, in the first inning to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. While the game would go back and forth, Delmon Young eventually broke a tie in the seventh inning on a bases loaded double. The double gave the Tigers a 7-4 lead, one they would hang onto for a series opening win.
With the Tigers seemingly having the White Sox number as of late, a good start to Saturday night’s game would have been the best way for the White Sox to attempt to stop the apparent momentum of Detroit. That was the exact opposite of what happened, as the Tigers would score in the third, fifth, seventh, and eighth, including a Young homerun, before the White Sox would manage a run in the ninth. The 5-1 victory for the Tigers would guarantee them they would leave the series in no worse shape than two games behind the White Sox. Max Scherzer threw eight scoreless innings while striking out nine.
The a share of the division lead on the line, and the national spotlight on the matchup between the team’s best pitchers, Justin Verlander and Chris Sale took the mound Sunday night in a matchup that lived up to the expectations. Alejandro De Aza returned to the lineup, and took the second pitch of the game out of the park to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then Verlander settled in and began mowing down hitter after hitter.
Sale would be just as good early, as the Tigers wouldn’t score until Brandon Boesch tied the game up with a solo homerun in the fifth. As the Sunday Night Baseball crew would point out in the sixth inning, that inning would likely be the biggest inning for Sale on this night. Indeed it was, as with two on, Young again got the better of White Sox pitching, taking an off-speed pitch that was well down out of the strike-zone and putting it in the seats. A pitch that wasn’t even really much of a mistake would give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. The White Sox attempted a comeback in the ninth, even getting the tying run to first base before Orland Hudson would make the final out of the game, giving the Tigers a share of the division lead, and their second sweep of the White Sox in as many series.
The season begins now for both teams. It’s a credit to both of them for being in this position, as the White Sox weren’t expected by many to be in this position, and the Tigers were once in third place in the not too distant past.
The White Sox now begin a 10 game homestand against the last place Minnesota Twins, a team in which should help the White Sox get back on track. The White Sox are awaiting the return of Adam Dunn, who has missed the last two games, and will likely miss the start of the Twins series.
Both teams stand at 72-61 with 29 games left on the schedule. The White Sox only have three series left with potential playoff teams (Tigers, Angels, Tampa Bay), and 18 games against teams definitely not going to the playoffs. September baseball is upon us, time to sit back and enjoy.