If the White Sox are to do this--win the A.L. Central--they'll have to do it the hard way. Down the pennant stretch, the South Siders will be facing hot teams, teams striving for their own survival, teams they haven't been able to beat and teams out of the race trying to be spoilers.
To paraphrase Bill Clinton, here's the arithmetic:
3 with the Royals at home
4 with the Tigers at the Cell
3 with the Twins in Minnesota
3 with the Royals on the road
3 with the Angels in Anaheim
3 with the Indians at home
4 with the Rays at the Cell
3 with the Indians in Cleveland
The mission begins tonight with a three-game series with the Royals. The bad news is that the Sox will be facing three pitchers and a team that has given them fits. The good news is that the Good Guys are due and have shown their resilience all season. If there's any resilience left in them, now's the time to show it.
While Luis Mendoza (7-9, 4.48), Bruce Chen (10-11, 5.28) and Jeremy Guthrie (7-12, 5.34) have all been below .500 with less-than-stellar earned run averages against everyone else, they've had their way with the Sox. Hopefully hitting coach Jeff Manto and his troops have figured it out.
The Sox will send Francisco Liriano against Mendoza tonight, Chris Sale vs. Chen on Saturday and it looks like either Hector Santiago or Dylan Axelrod opposing Guthrie on Sunday. Liriano has to bounce back from a horrible outing, Sale from losses in his last two starts and cross our fingers with whomever is the stop-gap starter on Sunday.
It's very tempting to look at the last 26 games and worry about all the matchups, how our pitching will hold up and if our hitters will be at their "No. 1 with runners in scoring position" best.
I'm just going to worry about Mendoza today and Chen tomorrow.
One game at a time is the only way to survive.