Guardians clinch Central as White Sox fall below .500 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Repeating as AL Central champions was only the first goal the White Sox had for the 2022 season that appeared to be full of promise back in spring training.
That goal officially will not be reached.
The Guardians clinched the Central on Sunday with the Sox’ 4-1 loss to the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“It’s obviously very disappointing," White Sox starter Dylan Cease said, "but we still have games left to play so we got to show up and keep playing.”
The Guardians, whose magic number entering the day was 1, needed a win over the Rangers or a Sox loss to clinch. They wound up getting both after beating the Rangers 10-4.
Although Cleveland officially clinched the Central Sunday, they effectively eliminated the Sox from the division race earlier this week with a three-game sweep on the South Side.
It has turned out to be a disastrous week for the White Sox, who were also swept by the Tigers and have lost six straight games to fall under .500 (76-77).
Elimination from the AL wild card race will become official in the coming days. The White Sox’ elimination number fell to three on Sunday.
The 2022 season will go down as a massive disappointment for the White Sox, who were coming off their first back-to-back postseason appearances in franchise history.
The Astros beat them in the ALDS last fall, but a new season brought renewed hope of a deep October run.
Instead, the Sox struggled to find their footing all season, with wildly inconsistent stretches — good after bad, bad after good — from start to finish.
“I think we definitely didn’t play up to our abilities," Cease said. "I’d have to really take a step back and look at it. I don’t want to comment just off the wing, but I think we all know we had more in the tank."
They played some of their better ball this season in the initial weeks after Miguel Cairo took over as acting manager for Tony La Russa, who stepped away from the team in late August for a medical issue.
The Sox were 13-6 under Cairo entering this week and four games back in the Central before this six-game skid buried them.
“I think Miggy and the coaches have done a very fine job,” general manager Rick Hahn said Saturday. “We’ve seen at various stretches, unfortunately not over the last four days or so, but for extended stretches over the last few weeks, this team showing flashes of playing at the level we thought was capable over the course of the entire season.
“Obviously, it was a little too little too late over the course of the year. But I think those guys deserve a lot of credit for what was thrust upon them on the fly and the way they responded, both in the coaches room and in the clubhouse."
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