The Chicago White Sox look to show their poor ending to an otherwise stellar first half of the season was only a bump in the road, and not a sign of things to come, when they open a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians.
Despite being swept last weekend in a three-game set for the first time all season, the White Sox entered the All-Star break with the best record in the majors.
Even with three straight home losses to Oakland to close the first half, Chicago is nine games ahead of the second-place Minnesota Twins and 11 ahead of the Indians in the AL Central.
“It was a really disappointing weekend, but there is nothing you can do about it,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said after Sunday’s 9-8, 11-inning loss to the Athletics. “One of the best things we’ve done all year, every time we got a losing streak, we bounced back and played pretty good baseball. I expect the same thing when we come back in a couple of days.”
Plenty of White Sox were busy during the break.
Left-hander Mark Buehrle started Tuesday’s All-Star game and struck out three in two scoreless innings to notch the victory as the AL won 7-5. Chicago right-hander Jon Garland pitched a scoreless inning, and teammates Paul Konerko and Scott Podsednik also appeared in the game as the AL secured home-field advantage for the World Series, where the White Sox haven’t been since 1959.
The Indians have plenty of work to do if they plan to even make the playoffs.
This contest kicks off an 11-game homestand for a Cleveland team which lost five of six before the break, including three of four at Yankee Stadium.
However, the Indians have gone 35-23 since May 9 to get back in the AL wild-card chase. They went into the break with a winning record for the first time since 2001.
“This team has come a long way,” closer Bob Wickman said. “If you had told me on June 1 or 2 that a month later we would be nine or 10 games over .500, I would’ve said, ‘No way, pal.”’