So here we are people, live-blogging this one-game playoff to set the mood for the eventual playoffs. To quickly recap the steps we had to take to get here:
* White Sox were up 2 1/2 games last Wednesday, before the start of the Twins-Sox series.
* Twins sweep, winning three games straight, to pull ahead half a game.
* Last weekend of the season, both Sox and Twins lose two outta three against the Indians and Royals, respectively, maintaining the status quo.
* As a result, the White Sox played a make-up game against the Tigers yesterday. Because the Pale Hose won, they evened up with the Twins at 88-74, hence tonight.
Live blog after the break.
7:34 Nothing to report yet, but I’m at my friend Joeff‘s place, having a Hoegaarden and some pizza.
Joeff says that the Twins should feel cheated out of $3 million all thanks to that coin-toss that determined where this game would take place ($70 per 40k at the Cell).
7:38 Jon Danks already falling behind to leadoff man Denard Span.
7:39 This is why the Sox lose, leadoff walks always end up hurting.
7:41 Twins try to get their running game going, with a hit-n-run but Casilla’s liner ends up in Uribe’s mitt. He double’s up Span at first.
Question: Do the stats in this game count?
|Chi White Sox||AB||R||H||RBI||BB||SO||LOB||AVG|
|Griffey Jr., CF||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.247|
7:47 Dewayne Wise batting second… Joeff sez: “Ozzie’s always changing the lineup, man.”
7:50 Twins win with defense. Double-play erases Sox leadoff single.
End of the 1st
Good defense so far, both teams manage to get a runner on, but sure enough, the Sox strand/erase it.
7:56 Danks pitching strong. Strikes out Morneau on a nasty slider away. Cuddyer can’t handle the cutter. Young provides the first scare, but flies out to right.
Joeff is amazed at Dank’s age: 23. “Biggest game of his career” – No doubt!
8:02 Thome walks on a close check swing. Hometown call?
8:04 I was getting ready to write that the Sox have to be able to move those runners along; can’t rely on the home run. Konerko flies out deep to left, and Griffey just hit it hard, but foul.
Joeff’s stat: that was Griffey’s 9314th at bat.
8:06 Ramirez swings hard at a 0-1 pitch. Someone compared his swing to Alfonso Soriano’s last night (I wanna say it was Steve Phillips). He walks.
Joeff’s stat: Ramirez was 3 for 4 against Blackburn.
8:09 Once again, a runner’s stranded. Pierzynski grounds weakly to short.
End of the Second inning.
8:17 Damn you Nick Punto and your scuffling. After 10 pitches he walks.
8:19 I’m surprised Carlos “Sox Killer” Gomez didn’t get a more, uhm, distinguished reception.
Joeff’s Stat: Gomez has 142k per 152 games this year.
8:28 Three quick outs. Sox swinging at everything but not making solid contact. Maybe the took Ozzie’s comments about Blackburn to heart.
End of the third.
Joeff’s stat: Convenience store 7-11 paid $500k to have the Sox games start at 7:11 p.m.
8:31 Mauer strikes out on some gas upstairs. Morneau fouls out on the first pitch he sees. Dank’s is mowing them down. Sox have to score before the 5th, lest their bullpen has to protect a tie or (gasp!) a small deficit.
Joeff’s Stat: In 2003, a Cleveland Plain Dealer fan poll named Thome the most popular athelte in the city’s history.
8:37 Thome doesn’t get the check-swing call this time around (Joeff notes the third-base ump is wearing glasses).
8:39 Sox doing everything to let the Twins win via Defense…until the Twins give it right back, throwing the double-play ball too high for Morneau to handle. Konerko safe at first. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Sox to capitalize. Griffey fouls out to third.
Joeff Stat: Griffey shares the same birthdate and same birth place as HOF’er Stan Musial.
8:41 Don’t look now, but the Sox have stranded three runners, two of which were leadoff singles.
End of the fourth inning.
8:44 Cuddyer doubles to start the fifth. Wise misplays the ball. I wonder if Swisher would’ve gotten that.
8:46 Someone just threw some popcorn or something at Ozzie during the (obnoxious) in-game interview.
Cuddyer tagged from second on Young’s fly out to center. Twins baseball at its best.
8:48 Fly out to short center field. Cuddyer tags. Griffey throws a strike to Pierzynski, who’s ready to apply the tag. Cuddyer runs him over, but he hangs on. OUT! Inning over!
Joeff’s Stat: A.J. stands for Anthony John Pierzynski.
8:53 All of a sudden, Blackburn is cruising. Three quick outs to end the inning.
End of the fifth inning.
Joeff Stat: Juan Uribe was involved in a shooting incident in 2007. The man involved later dropped charges after receiving a settlement.
8:58 Danks at 76 pitches. Two quick outs in the top of the sixth. But here comes the walk.
9:02 With a runner on first, Danks is overthwoing. Trying to hit the zone with the fastball.
9:04 He settles down and strikes out Casilla.
The story so far is Danks command and his ability to keep the Twins’ hitters off balance. Only one hit so far and three strike outs. The thing is, Blackburn has been as good, also striking out three, and scattering two hits.
Joeff’s Stat: Carl Ripken had 11, 551 at bats.
9:09 Two quick outs. If this game becomes a bullpen game, like Dennis Eckersley suggests, the Sox are in trouble.
9:11 Dye fouls out.
Joeff’s Stat: Dye’s salary this year, $9.5 million, ($58,641 per game).
End of the Sixth inning.
9:13 Pierzynksi throws out Mauer on a bunt-single attempt. Good play.
Joeff’s Stat: The Sox acquired Danks from the Rangers for Brandon McCarthy. His inning total for this year? 22. Dank’s total, 187.
9:14 Another nice defensive play. Morneau grounds softly to Danks who deflects the ball to short, Cabrera adjusts and throws him out. Cuddyer flies out to right to end the frame.
Joeff’s Stat: Thome’s favorite bat is a blacksmith-finish Lousville Slugger M356.
9:19 Big Boppers awake!! Thome blasts a bomb to center field! 1-0 Sox!
9:22 Pierzynski is feeling this game. He’s standing at the top of the dugout steps, facing the crowd, clapping. Konerko deflates the stadium with a weak grounder to second.
9:23 Griffey doubles to right and Ozzie pinch runs Brian Anderson. Blackburn done?
9:24 Gardenhire intentionally walks Alexei “Clutchness” Ramirez to get to Pierzynski. This is what it’s all about.
Joeff’s Stat: Gardenhire was born in Germany.
9:27 Blackburn done indeed. Jose Mijares in.
9:28 Pierzynski grounds out, runners on first and third. Juan Uribe up. Now, if you could get him a biscuit, melissa, he’d be set!
9:30 Flys out to left.
End of the seventh.
This is why the Sox lost down the stretch. They failed to score while trying to hit it out the park. One run is not enough with this bullpen, unless Ozzie plans to trot out Danks for the eighth.
9:35 Danks is back out. Brandon Harris singles.
Joeff’s Stat: Harris graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Political Science and a minor in business.
9:37 Should Ozzie take Danks out with a runner on?
9:39 Defense picks him up, nice double play turned by Cabrera, to Ramirez, to Konerko.
Danks pitch count: 103
9:42 I can barely hear the TBS guys, is it really that loud? I think they’re saying Joe Nathan is warming up. Wise flies out weakly to short.
9:48 Yep, Joe Nathan on to face Dye with one out in the eighth. He singles to left. Thome up.
Joeff’s Stat: Did you ever notice that Thome tugs his pants every time before each pitch?
End of the eight.
Well it all comes down to this. Baaad Bobby Jenks up for the Sox facing Carlos Gomez Kubell, Span and Casilla in a one-run game. These same hitters, scored a couple off Jenks last week to finalize the sweep.
9:55 Jenks strikes out Kubell.
9:57 Ground out to first!
9:58 WHAT A CATCH!! OZZIE CALLED IT! WHITE SOX WIN! AL CENTRAL CHAMPSSSSSS
Ozzie called the outfield in, and Casilla flied out to short center. Brian Anderson made a diving catch to end it. What a game. This is the kind of baseball the Sox play. Hit homers, play good defense, and get enough pitching. Problem is, they won’t get these kinds of games every time out. Specially not against the Rays. But we shall wait and see…
Question is, who pitches on Thursday? Anyhoo, thanks to everyone that stuck around (thanks melissa!), what a game. Thanks Joeff!