Three weeks to go in the regular season and this could be the White Sox’ make or break week. The White Sox are in striking distance of taking over the AL Central, but they will need to perform this week. Cleveland did not lay down last week and they probably won’t this week either. Here is what the action looked like last week:
- The White Sox went 4-2.
- The Twins went 4-3.
- The Guardians went 6-2.
For the second week in a row, the White Sox had a great week. And for the second week in a row, Cleveland had a better week. In the end, the White Sox gained a little bit of ground, now 3.5 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central. The White Sox don’t play today, Monday, September 19, but Cleveland is winning in a day game against Minnesota. This will put Cleveland a solid 4 games in front of the White Sox. During the week, the White Sox dropped one to Colorado and one to Detroit, but they did beat Cleveland in their one-day makeup game.
The Twins did not do their job last week. They swept Kansas City but lost three of four games to Cleveland. Though the Twins are in the rearview mirror, 3 games behind the White Sox and six behind Cleveland, the White Sox needed their help to gain ground on Cleveland.
Meanwhile, Cleveland swept the Angels and took those three games from Minnesota, basically having a stellar week. But maybe they are tiring. Going back to September 9, Cleveland played and will play every day (if not twice a day) until September 25. That is seventeen days in a row. Can they really keep up this torrid pace? Can the White Sox?
This week, the Sox play Cleveland three times and Detroit three times. All at home. After they play the White Sox, Cleveland will play three against Texas. Winning the series against Cleveland could have a profound impact on the standings. Gaining those two games would force an-every-game-matters-situation for the Cleveland/White Sox pennant race. Losing the series would push the White Sox to 5.5 games back, which would be everything but a death sentence. Getting swept by Cleveland would be a death sentence. Sweeping Cleveland would put them in a basic tie for first. But the White Sox need to continue to take care of business against Detroit as well later in the week.
The White Sox want to avoid the season coming down to the last week of the season. I don’t know what the White Sox did to piss off the scheduling gods, but Cleveland finishes the season with six games against Kansas City. Other than the White Sox, the Guardians must face Tampa Bay for three games next week, which won’t be simple, but the White Sox end the season by playing six games against Minnesota and three games against San Diego. Totally unfair.
What Went Right, What Went Wrong
Every time the White Sox scored four or more runs last week, they won. In the games that they didn’t score four runs, they lost. They put up eight against Cleveland, but they were shutout against Colorado and lost 3-2 to Detroit. In the game against Cleveland, they hit five home runs (Gavin Sheets, Andrew Vaughn, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal and Elvis Andrus). The White Sox averaged just under five runs per game (4.8) which seems to be their magic win number.
The White Sox front office probably can’t believe how well Andrus is doing. If the White Sox don’t make the playoffs, it won’t be because of Andrus. He had another 10 hits with two home runs and two RBI’s last week. Jose Abreu added seven hits, two home runs, and, most importantly, five RBI’s. That takes him to fourth in the AL in batting average behind Luis Arraez, Xander Bogaerts, and Aaron Judge. Eloy Jimenez increased his batting average to .313 (doesn’t have enough at-bats for the leader board) with six hits, two home runs, and a whopping seven RBI’s. Vaughn and Sheets each added five RBI’s last week. Moncada had another four hit game last week.
The White Sox pitching continues to do their job if not more than their job. They gave up two runs twice, three runs thrice, and five runs once. Against Colorado the starters (Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease) gave up runs in the first six innings, but the bullpen gave up zero runs in the series. In Cleveland, same thing. Lance Lynn had a great game, giving up two in six innings, and the bullpen gave up zero. It wasn’t until Friday that the bullpen gave up a run and only one was earned. In the end, the bullpen gave up 5 earned runs over 25.2 innings for a 1.75 ERA for the week.
It is important to note Rookie Davis Martin started a game this week and gave up one run in six.
What about the Wildcard
The White Sox are five games out of the Wild Card race. It still seems like a tough climb but anything can happen with three weeks to go. Baltimore is one game ahead of the White Sox for a Wild Card bid at four games back while the White Sox are five. Here is what happened last week.
- Toronto went 5-3. After playing Tampa Bay five times last week, they will play them another four times this week along with Philadelphia.
- Baltimore went 3-2 which is how the White Sox gained ground. They have a tough week ahead with four games against Houston.
- Tampa Bay went 4-4. Along with the four games against Toronto, they also have three against Houston.
- Seattle went 1-4. They have an easier path this week with 1 game against the Angels, three against Oakland and three against Kansas City.
Anything can happen in the Wild Card race right now, especially given the schedule and all the teams playing each other. It would be better if Seattle had the hardest schedule, but the White Sox still have a shot at multiple paths to the playoffs. It really all comes down to the Cleveland series this week.