This and [most other] weekday a.m.'s, let's rise and shine together to celebrate the loneliest number in sports. Today's Roll Call starts at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox forced a one-game playoff for first place in the AL Central with an 8-2 victory against the lame-duck Detroit Tigers. Chicago's opponent, the Minnesota Twins, watched with at least some mild disgust from home Monday evening after a three-hour rain delay helped exacerbate their wait, and Alexei Ramirez hit a grand slam to confirm their worst fear; the Twinkies are gettin' on a plane and goin' to Chicago.
Game of the Day: White Sox 8, Tigers 2
Survivor Chicago: For the second day in a row, the White Sox will be playing in Major League Baseball's only game. Again, they must win to continue their maddening season. By virtue of a coin flip earlier in the month (no, it wasn't an A.J. two-faced silver dollar), today's ballgame against their buds from Minneapolis-St.Paul comes from the South Side of Chicago. There, the Sox actually have a chance. They went 7-2 against the Twins, outscoring them 40-15 in a four-game series sweep back in June. That was three months and one healthy Carlos Quentin ago, but the Sox will take it, considering they had been playing like a team that wanted to go home early.
De-troit rocked city: After a competitive series at home against the playoff-ready Tampa Bay Rays, Los Tigres were game for their one-game set in Chicago. Sweaty Freddy Garcia, who was on the mound in the Sox's World Series clincher in 2005, did what he could to not only rescue his career from injury but also to beat his friends. His shoulder took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth but couldn't last. Neither did Detroit's lead. The Tigers allowed a five-run sixth, keyed by Ramirez's fourth grand slam of the season, a rookie record, and the Sox and Twins were on their way to Game 163. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't kick myself," Twins Grand Piranha Nick Punto told the Star-Trib of Minneapolis. "You get a little upset."
Kissin' Cousins: The White Socks and Twinkletoes go together like Oscar and Felix, Hatfield and McCoy — heck, Spock and McCoy — and Capone and Costner Ness. Chicago respects Minnesota — probably too much at the Hubert H. Hubert HubertDome, where the Twinx just got done sweeping the life (seemingly) out of the Sox — but they're not meeting this time in the Piranha Tank. And, the Sox respect the Twins, but they HATE having to. Here's what Mark Buehrle told ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago: "I hope we absolutely beat the living crap out of them. It's one of those games that if we are 20 runs ahead, I hope we are still stealing bases and hitting and running, because they are such a good team they could come back from that."
Location, location, location: Denard Span told MinnesotaTwins.com that the place doesn't matter — only showing up and winning does. "There shouldn't be any excuses for being on the road and not at home," Span said. "You've got to bring it, and I know I'm ready to go in there and upset them."
Lucky No. 13: OK, so Ozzie Guillen doesn't quite respect everyone on the Twins. He called Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn lucky after he started and got the decision in Minnesota's 3-2 victory at the HHHMD last week. The Chicago Tribune reported Guillen saying this morning, "I'll take my chance against him if he pitches the way he pitched last time." Blackburn is opposed by left-hander John Danks, who did not pitch in the previous Twins series.
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Feelin' Rundown (the rest of Monday's action):
We told ya', this was the only game!
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Alexei Ramirez (White Sox) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, SB
A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox) 2-4, RBI
Gavin Floyd (White Sox) 6 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 8 K, Win
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Armando Galarraga (Tigers) 0 IP, ER, BB, WP, Loss
Jim Thome (White Sox) 0-4, 3 K
Gary Sheffield (Tigers) 0-3, K (Sitting on 499 career homers)