I put no measure of belief in the idea that any professional sports team can troll, or actively twist a knife in their own fanbase. But there's something just a little too perfect about the White Sox busting out a titanic offensive effort replete with timely hitting, and production outside the home run ball just in time for Detroit to clinch the division.
Sox pitching even stopped walking people, for goodness sake!
But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter at all, which makes it almost hard to read into anything we saw. Was it like a Spring Training game? The atmosphere and intensity of play wasn't much different than one.
I might even be more tempted to put equal weight into a dominant Hector Santiago Spring outing as I'll give to Monday' showing, just because it would be five months closer to the start of the year.
Yet Hector was there to be stared at Monday night, and he was certainly worth the gander. Santiago's fastball was rippling, regularly hitting 95 mph and above from the left-hand side, and furious enough to set up his screwball. He struck out a career-high 10 over a career-high seven one-hit, shutout innings.
It was the type of 'wrath of God' performance that would have saved the offense in their lowest times. Instead, the lineup finally reeled in Corey Kluber the third time through the order. With two outs in the 6th, Adam Dunn drilled a 3-2 fastball up the middle to start a run of five consecutive batters reaching base, making for a four-run inning.
The Sox would then brutalize the non-premium elements of the Indians bullpen to balloon their margin of victory to 11. It was their first comfortable victory in....who knows when.
White Sox 11, Indians 0
Hector Santiago - 7 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 10 K, 108 pitches - A really good career move for Hector considering that the Sox will deciding how much of their rotation their jettisoning in the next few weeks.
Adam Dunn - 2 for 4, 2 RBI, R, BB, 2 K - Continues to model a more restrained stroke.
Paul Konerko - 2 for 4, RBI, R, BB, K - Maybe he can tear ahead and pad his stats too!
Alex Rios - 2 for 5, RBI, R, 2 K - All of a sudden he's surrounded by friends ready and willing to help.
A.J. Pierzynski - 2 for 4, RBI, 2 R, BB, K - Beating those regression demons right back to hell.
Dayan Viciedo - 2 for 4, HR, 5 RBI, BB, K - His grand slam was more lefty-punishing, but at least there's the walk to get excited about.
The dead offensive atmosphere was something the White Sox were every bit equal contributors to until the top of the 6th. Adam Dunn repelled a 91 mph fastball up the middle, Dewayne Wise scored from 2nd, and the local nightmare of Corey Kluber ended...albeit long after it could provide much relief.
Konerko worked the Cleveland starter for a walk, Alex Rios chased him with a single, and the decision to bring submarining right-hander Joe Smith to face the left-handed A.J. Pierzynski did not pay dividends. It was 4-0 by the time the Sox were done in 6th, which was far more than was needed.
Things Would Be Different If...
...This clutch hitting came earlier. Sox hitting was 8 for 15 with runners in scoring position and racked up five two-out RBI. This Cleveland team was just as bad last week.
It's all shadows on the cave wall right now. Hector looked good. Everyone in the middle of the order looked nice and tradable.
Team Record: 84-76, eliminated from postseason contention.