The Chicago White Sox's season won't extend past Game 162, but it's safe to say they still exceeded expectations under first-year manager Robin Ventura.
After officially being eliminated from playoff contention, Chicago looks to keep its spirits high in what has now been assured to be its final series of the season Tuesday night against the host Cleveland Indians.
The White Sox entered this three-game set trailing AL Central-leading Detroit by three games, needing to sweep the Indians while Kansas City took all three from the Tigers to force a one-game playoff for the division crown.
Chicago took care of its end with an 11-0 win Monday, but Detroit beat the Royals 6-3 later in the night to clinch its second straight Central title.
The White Sox (84-76), though, have been much better than most expected, leading the division for a large chunk of the season under Ventura, who had no previous managing experience prior to being named Ozzie Guillen's successor.
Chicago led the Central by three games on Sept. 18 but has since lost 10 of 13. The 11 runs Monday matched the total the White Sox scored in their previous series, having lost three of four to Tampa Bay.
"It's always frustrating, but I told everyone we should walk out of here with our heads held high," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "Nobody thought we would do anything this year, but to be in it until Oct. 1 and have a chance, we did everything we could. We don't have to look back and say we could have done this or we could have done that because at the end of the day, we gave everything we could and did everything we could possibly do.
"We were in the position we wanted to be in and it just didn't work out."
Among the reasons Chicago was in that position was the comeback season by Jake Peavy(11-12, 3.37 ERA), who enters his start Tuesday already having pitched his most innings (211) since 2007.
"We feel like we let one slip away," Peavy said Monday. "It's extremely frustrating the way things have played out."
Peavy is 2-5 over his past 10 starts, getting no more than two runs of support in six of them. He gave up two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings versus Tampa Bay on Thursday before the White Sox fell 3-2.
The right-hander has won his last three starts versus the Indians, but he gave up seven runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 14-7 win during his most recent start against them May 26.
The Indians' own second-half collapse led to the firing of manager Manny Acta, and they've gone 2-2 under interim skipper Sandy Alomar Jr. They tied a season low with two hits Monday.
Cleveland (67-93) will send Justin Masterson (11-15, 5.03) to the mound Tuesday as he looks snap out of a funk.
Masterson's ERA rose above 5.00 for the first time since early June after he gave up four runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings of Wednesday's 6-4 win over the White Sox in Acta's final game as manager.
Masterson is 1-4 with a 7.31 ERA over his last six starts.
"It's been difficult to explain," Masterson told the team's official website. "Unfortunately, I haven't done my job the way I'm supposed to."
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in four starts versus Chicago this season, and Pierzynski is 14 for 33 (.424) lifetime off Masterson.