After a dramatic 1-0 victory on Tuesday night, the White Sox are AL Central Champs.They sure didn't make it easy, though, did they? Had the White Sox not lost five games in a row last week, they probably could have locked up the division over the weekend and had a couple days of rest like all other playoff teams. Instead, in order to win the AL Central title they had to beat Detroit in a make-up game on Monday, and then play the Twins in a one-game playoff.
The White Sox join the Cubs in the postseason for the first time since they faced each other in the 1906 World Series. Which of course already has everyone fantasizing about a Crosstown World Series.
So how did the Sox squeeze their way into the playoffs? A number of White Sox players stepped up when called upon Tuesday night. No player had a bigger night than John Danks, who pitched eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball. Pitching on short rest and against a team who had pounded him in previous meetings this season, Danks pitched a masterpiece when he needed to.
Danks effort was critical, because the White Sox offense could muster only a lone run itself. That came on a solo home run by Jim Thome off Nick Blackburn in the seventh inning. Thome's 461-foot bomb was his 34th of the season and 541st of his career.
Defense also played a critical part in ensuring the Sox's trip to the postseason. Ken Griffey showed flashes of his younger days by gunning down Michael Cuddyer at home plate in the fifth inning, while his replacement in center field, Brian Anderson, made a diving catch of Alexi Casilla's fly ball to close out the game.
The White Sox will now head to Tampa, where they'll face the Rays in a best-of-five series beginning on Thursday. Now, is there any way this team can carry this momentum from three must win games through to the first round? Or have they left everything they had on the field these past few days? Like many, we were very skeptical of the team GM Kenny Williams put together, but now that they'll be playing in October we'd like to see them win it all (sorry, Cubs fans). [Ed's Note: No offense taken, Benjy. - M.G.]
AP Photo/Morry Gash