One possibility for the White Sox was eliminated Wednesday night as their playoff hopes took an even bleaker turn.
Detroit erased any realistic hope of Jon Garland winning 20 games as the Tigers' clutch hitting stood out in a 6-2 triumph that further taxed the Sox's chances of landing a postseason berth.
More humbling, however, is that the Sox moved closer to elimination. They fell six games behind first-place Detroit in the American League Central and 5½ games behind Minnesota in the AL wild-card race with 10 games left.
"It's going to be the hardest thing to do," manager Ozzie Guillen said of the task. "It's not over, but we're climbing a tough wall."
The Sox's tragic number for elimination from postseason play is six, and Garland (17-6) and catcher A.J. Pierzynski expressed realistic views of the Sox's status.
"We have to win out and hope they lose some games," said Garland, who described his performance as "terrible."
"That's my thoughts on it. The way Minnesota has played, it's highly unlikely. But you never know."
Winning 10 consecutive games would give the Sox 95 victories, but the Sox haven't won two straight in their last 10 games, and they haven't won as many as five straight since Aug. 10-14.
More frustrating to the Sox was that their current problems are lingering. They are 6-for-35 with runners in scoring position over their last six games and have hit into 21 double plays in their last 16 games. Joe Crede hit into three double plays Wednesday night.
The Tigers collected three straight hits in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead and added two more in the fifth on three straight hits and Sean Casey's sacrifice fly.
"It's obviously not impossible, but it's very disappointing, a very tough day because of what happened in the game," Pierzynski said. "We kept getting chances and kept not getting the guy in and kept getting chances to get out of innings, and they kept getting hits.
"That's frustrating about the whole situation, but that's the way it has gone for a little bit here. We have 10 games left, and we'll play hard for those 10 and see what happens."
Guillen and Pierzynski ruled out fatigue as a reason for the Sox's 7-11 slide in September.
"I know what I see, and I see the guys playing as hard as they can and doing the best they can, and it hasn't been enough," Pierzynski said. "The guys are busting their tails.
"We know what it's about. We've been through it before. Mentally, everyone I see is fine and as good as they can be right now with the situation."
The Sox, who posted a 52-22 record against the AL Central last year, lost five of their final eight to Detroit and have dropped seven of their last nine to Minnesota, where they will finish the regular season.
"It's deflating every year you don't go into the postseason," Garland said.
"[But] you have to tip your cap to Minnesota for the way it has played since the end of May and to Detroit for the way it has played all year long."