All of a sudden, the Chicago White Sox are the ones who have to play catch-up.
Reeling after a three-game sweep that dropped them out of the AL Central lead, the White Sox set out to regroup quickly as they open a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday.
The White Sox (86-72) had been maintaining a slim lead over the Twins for all of September until a disastrous trip to the Metrodome, where they lost three games—the last in excruciating fashion—and dropped one-half game behind Minnesota. Chicago does have a game in hand, a make-up of a rainout against Detroit that would be played Monday if necessary, which seems a near-certainty.
Thursday’s 7-6, 10-inning loss was especially agonizing, with the White Sox squandering a five-run lead as closer Bobby Jenks failed to deliver after manager Ozzie Guillen brought him into the game in the eighth with a two-run lead to get five outs.
“It sucks, but we’re still alive,” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “Hopefully we go home and win four games and we kick their (butt) on Tuesday. … They found a way to get enough hits and scrape some across. (Stuff) happens.”
John Danks (11-8, 3.20 ERA) tries to win consecutive starts for the first time since July 6 and 12. He extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings Sunday by limiting the Kansas City Royals to four hits and one walk in seven innings of a 3-0 victory, ending a personal three-game losing streak.
The left-hander has been plagued by poor run support in three starts against the Indians this year, getting just two runs while going 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA. He lost to them on Sept. 2 after being reached for four runs and eight hits in four innings of a 9-3 defeat, dropping to 1-3 in seven lifetime starts versus Cleveland.
Cleveland (79-80) gets another chance to play spoiler after being unable to prevent Boston from settling for the AL wild card. The Indians dropped the final three games of their four-game series with the Red Sox, including a 6-1 defeat Thursday in which they were held hitless until the sixth.
Rookie Scott Lewis (3-0, 1.42) finally gave up his first runs since being promoted in September, but he still won for the third time in as many starts Sunday when he gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings of a 10-5 victory over Detroit.
“It was great to see him fight through those innings,” Indians manager Eric Wedge told the team’s official Web site. “He didn’t give into the fight, which is good to see from any pitcher, especially a young one.”
Lewis’ outing Sunday was the shortest of his three since Wedge has limited him to 100 pitches in each outing. The left-hander, making his first appearance against the White Sox, has struck out 14 in 19 innings.