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Monday, August 19

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White Sox Mon Aug 27 2012

Sox Streak Starts At Strange Time

The White Sox won a rain-shortened series finale at home against Seattle on Sunday, extending their win streak to six games. They swept their half-dozen game homestand, handing three defeats each to the Yankees and Mariners. In a season filled with peaks and valleys, the South Siders are riding a hot spell, clearly having some positive momentum.

Ah yes, momentum. The impossible to quantify, hard to define, ever-fleeting byproduct of a crew that's playing good ball. A team is never quite sure how to get momentum, but once they have it, the players know it. And so do the coaches, front office, press and fans. There is that feeling that the team can beat any given opponent, that every player's production will increase, and that even if the situation appears dire, someone will emerge to carry the squad.

That has been the story for the White Sox over the last seven days, with something clicking in them specifically in the fifth inning of the home opener last Monday.

After just being swept by the Royals, the Sox trailed the Yankees by three runs after New York mercilessly pounded Gavin Floyd (who didn't even last three innings). Halfway through the game, an Alexei Ramirez at-bat provided the spark. With no outs, the shortstop hit a chopper down the third-base line that was originally a stand-up double. The umps reversed the call, though; they judged it by where the ball landed (outside of the line) rather than by where the ball was when it went over the bag (it bounced over the base in fair territory). Ramirez then struck out.

Rather than fold, something strange happened: the Sox exploded for five runs in that frame, and batted around the order. They went on to win that game 9-6. In the second game, a Kevin Youkilis routine fly ball drifted over the right field fence for a grand slam, and the Sox cruised to a 7-3 victory. In the finale, Chris Sale had yet another splendid outing, completely shutting down the Yanks (7.2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 13 K) for his 15th win.

The Mariners series began with the most bizarre game of the year. Chicago led 7-2 in the ninth, but Seattle rallied for six runs, taking a 8-7 lead. Yet again, the Sox found a way to win, going on their own rally to score two in the ninth for the win. The Sox won two more one-run games to close out the series.

Just as the White Sox' season was becoming stagnant, with a 18-17 post-all-star break record on the morning of August 20, the botched Ramirez fair/foul call might have just jump-started the homestretch of the season. The jolt comes at a good time too, as the Sox head to Baltimore and Detroit for a week's worth of games.

At that moment last Monday, who knew the ruling reversal would help the Sox? Baseball can be a weird sport: something completely inexplicable can create a little momentum.

 
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