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White Sox Sun Jul 04 2010

Sox Continue to Show They're For Real

SoxLogoSmall.jpegAs the White Sox return for their final homestand before the all-star break, a playoff berth is undeniably within their grasp. After taking two of three at Texas, with Mark Buehrle helping fuel a 5-3 win in Sunday's rubber game, Chicago stands only 1 game behind AL Central co-leaders Detroit and Minnesota.

I suppose, then, that it's time we stop marveling at the heroic effort the Sox needed (and produced) to save their season after falling 9 1/2 games back less than a month ago. Perhaps we just treat these guys like expected contenders -- a role they were happy to play at Camelback Ranch in March.

Sunday's winning formula was a familiar one: Buehrle laid the foundation with seven strong innings, allowing three runs on five hits (including two home runs). The offense came alive in the sixth, with Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin tying the score with back-to-back doubles and Alexei Ramirez following two outs later with a two-run homer. And the bullpen, as has so often been the case this season, brought it home strong, with J.J. Putz and new all-star Matt Thornton each pitching a scoreless inning.

Now it's back home for seven games in seven days before the June 12-14 all-star break. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Orange County, California, America, the world, the universe, etc.) arrive for four games, and then the Kansas City Royals for three.

But it's hard to resist looking ahead to the first series after the break, when the Sox begin a 10-game road trip with four in Minnesota. Four weeks ago, it looked like that series would be Chicago's last-gasp chance to keep hope alive. Heck, maybe Kenny Williams would have thrown half his veterans overboard by that point.

Instead, the Sox in all likelihood will begin the second half right in the thick of things, ready to battle Minnesota and Detroit on even footing for what probably will be the Central Division's lone playoff berth. After a chaotic, exhilarating first half, they wouldn't have it any other way.

 
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