This weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together (real early, graveyard shifters) for the one and only game in Major League Baseball. It was a doozy. Today's Roll Call starts and ends in Sweet Home Chicago, where the White Sox held services, (finally, heavens-to-Betsy) for those whippersnapper Twins from Minnesota in the 163rd game of the season.
So, can we start the playoffs, already?
Game of the Day: White Sox 1, Twins 0
Old men, take a look: Setting aside their canes and walkers, 38-year-olds Jim Thome and Ken Griffey partied like it was 1999, each contributing something crucial to the AL Central clincher. Thome hit a mammoth (not the elephant cousin of his youth) homer to center for the game's only run, and Griffey cut down Michael Cuddyer at home plate with an accurate two-bounce throw from center field that actually left his hand and arrived in A.J. Pierzynski's mitt in the same day. After making a terrific tag, Pierzynski, of course, presented Cuddyer with the ball. One of these days, someone's gonna clock that guy. ... Oh, yeah.
Danks a lot, pal: 23-year-old lefty John Danks staggered the Piranhas for eight innings, only getting into trouble once, which was erased by Griffey. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer went a combined 0-for-6 with three strikeouts and also never came up with anyone on base. Danks' performance, along with that of Thome, Griffey and others, was a validation for general manager Ken Williams, who wanted another division title to show that 2005 wasn't just a lucky season. Thome had not visited the playoffs since 2001; Griffey, 1997. But the Sox would not be there, facing the Rays at Tampa Bay on Thursday, without 'em all, including 26-year-old Brian Anderson, the defensive replacement for Griffey who caught the clincher on a low line drive to center field, setting off a South Side celebration.
Tiebreaker heartbreaker: Nick Blackburn, dissed by Ozzie Guillen for being lucky in a victory against the Sox last week, pitched a whale of a ballgame — two whales, even — but paid for the one mistake to Thome. The Twins, despite paring away Johan Santana and Torii Hunter, pursued the Sox hard all season and even swept their way into first this past week. But they lost a coin flip and thus couldn't host this game at the Dome, where they went 8-1 against the Sox.
None more black: The Sox marketing department asked fans to wear black and most of the 40,000-plus fans did, except for the occasional Twinkie Wrapper. The players, on the other hand, didn't get the memo and went with the white with black pinstripes. Do as we say, not as we do!
Give that Cal a contract: On the TBS pregame show, host Ernie Johnson asked Charles Barkley Cal Ripken Jr. whom he thought would be the difference in the game. After telling Ernie to stay at Holiday Inn and that he was "a chucklehead," Ripken replied, "Jim Thome. I like the match-up. ... Thome's got power to all fields." Slow clap for Nostradamus. Dennis Eckersley pegged Griffey as his player of the game, but didn't mention anything about defense. Sorry, The Eck.
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Yes, we can start now — Today's Game 1 probables:
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Danks (WSox) 8 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 K, Win
Thome (WSox) 1-3, HR, BB, K
Blackburn (Twins) 6 1/3 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 3 K, Loss
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Mauer (Twins) 0-3, 2 K
Morneau (Twins) 0-3, K
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Words of Mouth
"You never want to put 162 games all into one game, but that's what ended up happening. It's going to hurt for a while and it's going to be a long night for sure." — Morneau