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White Sox Thu Aug 19 2010
See, this is why I don't opine about each individual White Sox game. If I had popped off after Tuesday and Wednesday's one-run, stomach-punch losses in Minnesota -- critical losses with the AL Central threatening to slip away -- I might have sounded like Steve Rosenbloom, the Tribune's reliably Napoleonic armchair general.
That would have been silly. The Sox headed north trailing the first-place Twins by three games. They were by far most likely to exit the three-game series with a 2-1 or 1-2 split -- and a two- or four-game deficit. Fan and media fantasies that this brief meeting, 1/54 of the season, was going to decide a playoff spot were always a bit overblown.
I'm glad, then, that I resisted the urge to vent about Jim Thome's titanic game-winning home run Tuesday and the similarly close loss that followed Wednesday. I'd have sounded as dyspeptic and cynical as Rosenbloom, who declared the Sox dead Thursday morning (before turning his venomous sarcasm on the Bears and Cubs).
And then Thursday night, the Sox played about as well as a major-league team can play, moving back within four games of Minnesota with a dominant, 11-0 win. Mark Buehrle was in top form and Paul Konerko went 5-for-5 to lead a Chicago lineup that pounded out 21 hits.
It's one game, and it follows a string of eight losses in 10 games. It's not enough -- not for a team that has gone 31-41 against the AL East and AL Central, that has lost 10 of 15 against Minnesota.
But win or lose, a few games either way is hardly decisive. The Sox (66-55) might well fade from the pennant chase -- Juan Pierre, now batting .376 in his past 25 games, can't do it all himself -- but let's not bury them prematurely. With nearly seven weeks left in the regular season, there will be plenty of time for that.