Hello sports fans, Carlos here for the latest Windy City Report. In this edition, do the White Sox keep a grasp on the division lead? Is the Cubs’ misery over? How are the Monsters of the Midway Bears doing?
When the week started the Sox were hanging on tenuously to the AL Central lead by one game over the Detroit Tigers. Things looked good for Chicago. They had seven games, but all of them were at home. Then they actually had to play the games.
It started out well in the opener against the Cleveland Indians. Adam Dunn hit two homers, including a 3-run shot in the eighth inning to give the Sox a come from behind victory 5-4.
In the second game, Francisco Liriano did not show up. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing 7 hits and four runs. The Sox had to play catch up, but ran out of outs and lost 4-3. The loss put the Sox in a deadlock with the Tigers for the division lead.
In the rubber match, the Indians walked themselves to a victory. White Sox pitchers walked 12 batters (the most since 2003), and allowed 9 hits in a 6-4 loss. With Detroit winning, the Sox now saw themselves looking up at the Tigers in the standings after leading the division for 117 days.
Walking 12 is just not something you want to see from a club battling for the playoffs. First baseman and team captain Paul Konerko said what everyone was thinking. “It was tough out there tonight. We didn’t deserve to win that game. This is the big leagues. You’ve got to play all nine innings, and you have to play them well to beat a team. We didn’t do that tonight.”
After a deflating series loss to a non-playoff contending team, the Sox had to erase any negativity and take on the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the hottest teams in baseball.
The Rays came to town sporting a 7 game winning streak. The Sox looked to stop that streak and stop their freefall. Jake Peavy took the mound and did his best to keep the Sox in the game. He went 7 1/3 innings, struck out six, and allowed two runs on four hits. With one out in the 9th, however, Evan Longoria hit a homer off of Brett Myers to give the Rays a 3-2 win. The Rays extended their winning streak to eight, while the Sox slide went to 8 losses in 9 games.
Suddenly the White Sox saw themselves with a two game DEFICIT when about a week and a half earlier they had a three game LEAD. With only six games remaining, the Sox knew that every game from here on out were just about must wins. The hard luck loser Peavy said “I believe anybody will tell you we need to win out. And that starts with winning tomorrow,” Peavy said. “You can’t look ahead of yourself.”
Being behind so late in the season seemed to wear on the Sox. While they won the next game and stopped the Rays’ winning streak, they ended up losing the next two games, losing three out of four to them.
Losing 5 out of 7 games for the week dropped the White Sox from a one game lead in the standings to a three game deficit. With only three games remaining, they truly are in a must win situation. They have to sweep their series in Cleveland, while hoping the Kansas City Royals sweep the Tigers. That is a mighty task to hope for, but stranger things have happened, just look at last year’s final days of the season. We can hope baseball has some more miracles in store.
Over on the Cubs’ side of town, everyone is just happy that the season is drawing to a close. When last I wrote about the Cubs, they needed to win four of their last nine games to avoid losing 100 games for the first time since 1966. Well, they have played six games since, and they now need only three games to keep it from happening. Yes, folks, the Cubbies lost 5 out of 6 games, going to Colorado and getting swept, then traveling to Arizona to lose two out of three games. They now stand at 60-99, just one loss away from that futile mark.
One good thing to know is that the last three games the Cubs play are at home against the Houston Astros, the one team that actually has a worse record. It will be interesting to see whether they can salvage something out of this season, albeit small and really meaningless. But hey, something is something right?
The Bears are still 2-1, with their next game coming up tonight at Dallas. I will report on that game and their next one at Jacksonville against the Jaguars. One interesting note is that the Minnesota Vikings won again so they are 3-1 and in first place in the NFC North, pending tonight’s Bears game. Also, the Green Bay Packers won a thriller against the New Orleans Saints to run their record to 2-2. With a win the Bears will also be 3-1 and share the division lead with Minnesota.
Until next week, take a trip to Buddy Guy’s Legends Club and enjoy real Blues music.