Make no mistake about this. If there is one White Sox player who has deserved praise from the day the season began to today, it's Alex Rios.
Rios homered to win the Sox's first game of the year against the Rangers, has been stellar throughout the summer and last night, in the most desperate of circumstances, he did it again. He went 3 for 4, homered in the fourth inning to give the Sox a 2-1 lead and in the sixth he doubled to lead off the inning, scoring an all-important insurance run on Alexei Ramirez's two-out single.
Rios has done it all for the Sox in 2012, a consistent presence in the No. 5 hole: 25 home runs, 89 runs batted in, 37 doubles, a .301 batting average. Add to those numbers countless clutch hits and his outstanding defense in right field and you've got the Sox MVP and a candidate for league honors.
The Good Guys gave Rios some help in the enormous victory over the Rays, which brought the Sox to within a game of the Tigers and snapped an eight-game Tampa Bay winning streak. Kevin Youkilis drove in Gordon Beckham in the third, which tied the game at 1-1, the Ramirez tie-breaking single and the six pitchers--Gavin Floyd, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton, Nate Jones, Donnie Veal and Addison Reed--who held the Rays to just the first inning run and three hits.
Five games to go, one game behind. With both the Sox and Tigers playing this afternoon, it'll be Sale for us, Verlander for them. Will Sale dominate Tampa Bay? Will the Twins find a way to defeat last year's MVP and Cy Young Award winner?
We'll know soon enough, but the good news is that the Sox are still breathing.