12:42 PM PDT, September 29, 2005
It's come to this. Here's the deal: A White Sox victory today clinches the American League Central.
If the Sox lose today, they can still clinch the division, if the Indians lose tonight.
After that it gets confusing. Let's just say the only way the Sox couldn't make it is if they lose their remaining four games and the Indians win out and the Red Sox and Yankees both finish with 95 wins. But the White Sox are guaranteed a one-game playoff .
That might be exciting for baseball, but would cause further acid reflux for Sox fans, who have suffered enough lately.
Hopefully it won't come to that nightmare, which makes me nervous just typing those words and makes my brain hurt just thinking about.
Got it? Neither do I.
At any rate, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have some Miller High Life, the champagne of beers, at the ready. If they win, you can douse your head. If they lose, you can spray it in your eyes.
Freddy Garcia gets the honors for the Sox today while bitter right-hander Jason Grilli, in January, takes the mound for the Detroit Tigers.
Today's lineups and we'll have baseball soon.
And away we go. Scott Podsednik flies to Craig Monroe in center for the first out. Pablo Ozuna, in the lineup again for Joe Crede, whose wife gave birth to a baby a girl last night, pokes a single up the middle. But is then thrown out stealing with Jermaine Dye at the plate. Dye rips one off the top of the left-field fence and coasts into second with a double. Paul Konerko walks. Carl Everett hits the first pitch for his second triple in two days, driving in Dye and Konerko and the Sox take a 2-0 lead. Aaron Rowand flies out to center.
White Sox 2, Tigers 0
Garcia strikes out Curtis Granderson to start things off. Placido Polanco, not to be confused with Enrico Pallazzo, flies out to Rowand in center. Chris Shelton bounces back to Garcia, who cruised through a 1-2-3 inning.
This game is on Comcast, for those of you wondering. A.J. Pierzynski pokes a double to the right-field corner and Juan Uribe bunts him over to third. Wee Willie Harris draws a walk. Podsednik hits a deep fly ball to left, deep enough to score Pierzynski. Ozuna bounces out to end it but the Sox get one more.
White Sox 3, Tigers 0
Magglio Ordonez fies out to left, but Carlos Pena follows with a single. Garcia fans Monroe. Brandon Inge pokes a two-out single to left. Vance Wilson bounces out to Ozuna at third and that does it for the second.
Reader Tim Hillgard, wrote in to say he was kind of hoping the Sox would lose so they could clinch at Cleveland because he remembers the Indians clinching at Comiskey Park in 1996 when Jack McDowell was with the Tribe. He wondered if Cleveland had clinched more than once at Comiskey, which they didn't. But in our search this turned up from the Tribune story when the Sox clinched in 2000:
"The White Sox gathered together on the Metrodome field for a group photo an hour after clinching the Central Division title Sunday, hugging and mugging and singing their favorite song.
'Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who . . .
"Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who.'"
Uh. Yikes. It's crazy how fast a song gets dated.
OK, Dye pops out to center. Konerko rips a single to left. Everett singles to right and that speedster Konerko hustles to third. Great play there. Rowand bounces into a 4-6-3 double play that prevents the Sox from getting another run.
Kit from Boston writes in to report this game is on ESPN for the rest of the country. Omar Infante flies out to Rowand in center. Granderson grounds into the second out. Polanco bounces one off Garcia's glove for an infield single. Shelton pokes a legitimate single to left. Maggs hits one up the middle and Harris ranges to his right and makes a jump throw to first. Nice play. Inning over.
Still 3-0 Sox
Karl from LA shares a classic story about cats and the above brutal song on the message board. Pierzynski rolls out to second. Uribe flies out to Maggs in right. Harris flies to center.
I thought my brain hurt earlier but reading everyone go back and forth on the message board about the playoff scenarios is crazy. If the Sox win today, they win the AL Central because they own the season series with the Indians.
Garcia strikes out Pena and Monroe. Inge chops one to Ozuna, who boots a short hop around the bag. Tough play and it's ruled a hit. But no biggie because Wilson flies out to a running Rowand in center.
Podsednik flies out to center. Ozuna is retired and Dye sends it deep to right but Maggs makes the catch with his back to the wall.
Enfante short-hops it to Uribe, who makes a nice pick and his usual strong throw. One out. Granderson flies out to center. Two outs. Planco flies out to Rowand, as well and that makes three.
Konerko leads off the sixth with his 40th homer of the season into the seats above the bullpen. Everett grounds out and Rowand does the same. Pierzynski pops up to end it, but Konerko's homer gives the Sox a 4-0 lead.
White Sox 4, Tigers 0
Shelton flies out to right and Maggs grounds out and Garcia continues to cruise. Pena pops out and that's seven in a row for Garcia.
Uribe grounds to short to open the seventh and Harris bounces one back to the pitcher. Podsednik flies out to center. This game is flying. Nine outs away, Sox fans.
Monroe and Inge touch Garcia for two straight singles to start the bottom half of the seventh. Wilson hits it to Harris' left and Harris makes another nice play, this time the other way, and gets the runner at second. First and third with one out for Infante. The ball gets away from Pierzynski and Monroe comes home with the Tigers' first run. That was ruled a wild pitch. Wilson takes second. Infante strikes out swining at a ball in the dirt. Granderson breaks his bat and dribbles one to Harris for the third out.
White Sox 4, Tigers 1
Ozuna hits a 2-1 pitch into right for a single. And Alan Trammell has seen enough of the whiny Grilli, who failed to step up in his "playoff" game. Chris "I'm not only a customer but the president" Spurling comes on. Spurling gets Dye to bounce into a double play. Konerko walks. And eventually takes off for second and Everett pokes a single right where the shortstop was. Rowand fails to take advantage of the move, though, and pops out.
Polanco singles to right and Ozzie goes and gets Garcia. Enter Cliff Politte. Good timing by Comcast getting a shot of Garcia sitting in the dugout and putting in his post-start celebratory dip. After a lengthy at-bat, Shelton pops out to Uribe in shallow left. Maggs hits one deep and over Rowand's head, scoring Polanco. Ozzie wants the lefty to face Pena and he goes and gets Politte for Neal Cotts. Cotts does his job, striking out Pena. And Ozzie now makes the big, fat guy sign with his hands, meaning he wants the fleshy, flame-throwing Bobby Jenks. Jenks gets a strike on Monroe and then throws about a 45-footer that barely pings off Pierzynski's shoulder. Maggs takes third. No matter because Monroe grounds out. We move to the ninth.
White Sox 4, Tigers 2
Fernando Rodney is the Tigers' new pitcher and he plunks Pierzynski to open the ninth. Uribe bunts Pierzynski over to second. Close play at first, though. Harris walks. Podsednik hits it through the hole and into left and for some reason Joey Cora sends the battleship Pierzynski and he's out at the plate. New father Joe Crede bats and he grounds out.
Here we go. Three outs away. I'd like to take this opportunity on Reader Appreciation Day and the last regular-season FTC to thank everyone for stopping by all season and making this feature what is it. Thanks. OK, enough of that. Jenks remains in the game. Inge hits a single to left. Wilson bounces one to Crede, who boots it. He was trying to look to second before he could play the ball. Dmitri Young hits for Infante. D'meat hook fans quickly. Here's TF South guy Granderson and Jenks carves him up with a back-door curve. Polanco bats with two outs and two guys on and hits a liner to Konerko for the last out. Sox clinch. Choke on that. And Hawk goes a bit crazy. Yeeaassss!
I hope the Sox brought their own champagne because I'm sure you can't get anything without a screw cap in Detroit. They can always do like Fred Sanford and mix ginger ale and ripple and make champipple.
The Sox gather on the mound.
Final: White Sox 4, Tigers 2
In the Sox clubhouse there is much hugging and spraying of champagne and beer, handing out of t-shirts and hats and plastic everywhere. It should be noted the Sox did bring their own bubbly and it has a Sox logo on the label.
Thanks for reading everyone. Enjoy the playoffs.
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