White Sox Magic Number Countdown: 9 – Walking Back To Second Place

If there was going to be a game to sum up how a small lead in the American League Central got away from the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday night was it. It had a little bit of everything, from starting pitchers not being able to go deep into games, leads that couldn’t be held onto, and a bullpen that has been unable to finish a game.

The Cleveland Indians jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the White Sox would quickly respond in the bottom half of the inning, pounding starter Justin Masterson and picking up three runs, including an RBI walk from Paul Konerko and an RBI double by AJ Pierzynski. With the way games have gone as of late, White Sox fans were quick to notice that there was a chance the Sox could and should have put up a couple more runs.

Hector Santiago would be done after just three and a third innings, and the bullpen would be relied on to finish the game. In came Brian Omogrosso, who had pitched two and a third innings the night before, and local product Jason Kipnis hit a two-run single to tie the game at three.

The White Sox would regain the lead on an RBI double by Alexei Ramirez, but it wouldn’t last. Evening out the bases-loaded walks, Carlos Santana would draw the free pass, tying the game at four. It wouldn’t be the end of the runs, as the bullpen would give up a run in the seventh and eighth as well, giving the Indians a 6-4 lead.

While all that was happening, the Detroit Tigers were in a close contest with the Kansas City Royals, and by the time the lengthy game at U.S. Cellular Field was over, the Tigers had already added a game in the win column.

As Cleveland closed out the game, the White Sox fell a game behind the Tigers for the first time in two months. The White Sox magic number remains at nine, although they now need the Tigers to begin losing a few games. In all, the White Sox walked 12 men, certainly not a recipe for success.

The White Sox will now begin a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox swept the Rays earlier in the season, but now the Rays are fighting for their playoff life.

Evan Longoria has finally found a nice groove, and is playing some of his best baseball of the season. On top of that, the White Sox will likely see David Price in the series finale, and Price has been outstanding this season.

On the other hand, they will also see pitcher Matt Moore, who may be feeling the effects of the long season, as his last three starts have not been good at all.

The key for the White Sox will be to get better outings from their starters, as the bullpen has to be running on fumes at this point. They will need Jake Peavy to get into at least the seventh inning, if not even later in the game, and Gavin Floyd needs an outing similar to his last one. That is the one chance the White Sox have of helping the bullpen get fresh again.

Now the White Sox play catch up, as they sit a game back behind the Tigers. Manager Robin Ventura’s inexperience has shown, and the team has shown they are feeling the pressure. All of that is in the past now, and what happens over the next week will determine how we look at this year’s team forever. The guys on the field will be able to write the story.

Follow on Twitter @Midwaygasper