|« Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was||Cubs 6-Game Winning Streak Snapped; Lose 1-0 »|
White Sox Tue Sep 21 2010
It was 10:19 back home in Chicago when the White Sox absorbed the first blow. As Mark Buehrle pitched the bottom of the fifth inning in Oakland, the Minnesota Twins closed out a comeback win against Cleveland, moving to the brink of another AL Central title.
Little more than an hour later, team MVP Paul Konerko grounded out to end a 7-2 loss, the eighth in a row and 12th in 14 games for the Sox. Their postseason hopes were pronounced dead at 11:37 by Hawk Harrelson, as he graciously congratulated the Twins, the first team to clinch a playoff berth, on their sixth division title in nine years.
Two weeks ago, the Sox, riding a seven-game win streak, trailed Minnesota by 3.5 games. The margin now is 12 games with 11 left to play.
Even without this final swoon -- fueled in part by the physical breakdown of seemingly half the pitching staff -- the Sox (79-72) likely would have struggled to catch a Twins team that has roared through the second half of the season. Minnesota (91-60) had a .577 win percentage in July, .643 in August and now .778 in September -- a hellacious .710 (44-18) since the all-star break.
Plenty of questions confront the South Siders, starting with the futures of 10th-year general manager Kenny Williams and seventh-year manager Ozzie Guillen. Either or both -- or neither -- could leave town this off-season. And there's no shortage of roster decisions, starting with veterans Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Bobby Jenks.
Unfortunately for the Sox, it's time to flip the calendar to 2011.