The White Sox escape Thursday with the lead intact

The White Sox escape Thursday with the lead intact
Since I'll probably never get to say this otherwise..."OH MAN, CHRIS SALE DESTROYED THAT BALL!!!" // Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune

No matter what the result of the Monday makeup game, the White Sox will end this season with a truly miserable head-to-head record against the Detroit Tigers.  The best they can finish at is 6-12, and that’s despite only facing Justin Verlander twice all year now.  Suffice it to say, if the White Sox make it to the playoffs, it will be because they were able to compensate for their inability to compete with the Tigers in head-to-head matchups.

So there should be no shame–at least, no additional shame–in celebrating the avoidance of a showdown against Verlander with the last bits of the division lead at stake.

Give me Doug Fister–a good pitcher having a good season coming off of a good start–over a showdown with Verlander with that lead in the balance.  How about a weekend to recover from two frustrating losses against the Twins rather than recovering on the fly?  And a fringe shot at having Dunn in the lineup Monday sounds a lot better than no chance of him at all on Thursday.

The White Sox will opt for Gavin Floyd again in a vital situation when Detroit comes back to town on a mutual off-day. That’s an interesting decision worth examining, because there were a lot of options of where to go with this.  It would have been easy to shift Jake Peavy back a day, or the Sox could have even found themselves a great reason to give Chris Sale a long rest and hold until Monday.  Instead, they prioritized getting Francisco Liriano far, far away from the rotation.

That, or neither Peavy nor Sale had inspired oceans of confidence in their last two starts against Detroit.

That, or Gavin Floyd’s early effectiveness Wednesday–accompanied by more gushing about him from Jim Leyland–could be spurring confidence.

In either case, unlike at earlier points in the season, there are no signs of revving the engines for Detroit at the cost of other games on the schedule.

Sale, and apparently Ventura, are operating under the notion that Friday’s game is just as important.  That may be overkill, since the beleagured Twins pitching staff might be pushing the worst starter they’ve offered all year onto the mound, but it’s still an encouraging attitude, and one that avoids embracing a false finality centered around another doomed encounter with Detroit.

Knocking out opportunities to beat up on lesser opponents is, after all, important business–a good weekend could lower the stakes of Monday’s battle quite a bit.  For as much as Detroit has done to display the talent gap between them and the Sox, their inability to provide consistent performances, to execute in games without exciting playoff atmospheres, to beat up on the Mariners and Indians of the world, can still be their undoing.

Especially if the White Sox refuse to make it theirs.


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