OK, White Sox, you're in control of your own destiny as you start your biggest three-game series of the year tonight in Minnesota. If you're good enough, you came back home Central Division champs with three days to get your postseason plans in order. I would say 2 out of 3 would be just fine, but why settle for anything less than a sweep. Think about the four games in a row in June when you beat Minnesota at home, not the three out of four you lost to them at the Dome the following month.
Paulie's hitting, Thome's hitting, the Missile is ready to launch, DeWayne Wise is ready to run. If Junior wants to be a hero for the Sox, the time is now. Vazquez is due for one of his lock-down performances. Let's get thee to the postseason to compete for the Windy City World Series match-up SBW was found upon almost 40 games ago.
Since last we posted, the Sox took care of business on Sunday, shutting out K.C. 3-0 on a strong performance by Danks, and with help from a two-run HR by Paulie. It would have been so much better and easier going up to Piranha-land with a three-game hold on 1st place, but the Sox could only take 2 out of 3 in K.C. If they don't have the best of luck in Minnesota, Cleveland certainly won't be a pushover, and Minnesota has an easier season-closing assignment vs. K.C.
Most Sox fans would cringe at this, but what the Sox need right now is a little of the so-called Cubbie Swagger (Piniella's words). The Cubs still seem to have it, despite clinxhing the division over the weekend, and certainly will need it for the long road ahead. They beat the Cards 5-1 on Sunday to take the regular season Wrigley Field finale, and last night beat up a Mets team that is supposed to be competing for a play-off spot. Marquis was pretty solid and helped himself by hitting a grand slam, which proved to be the margin of victory in the 9-5 win by the Cubs.
Who would you like to see the Cubs take on in their first postseason series? The Mets, with their terrible bullpen, seem like the easiest mark, but they still have Johan Santana to possibly start two first round games if they get in and make the series last long enough--let's see what the Cubs do against Santana tonight before we go any further with that one. The Dodgers would be a challenge. The Cubs took the season series, but that was before Manny showed up. they have a couple good young pitchers and a decent older one by the name of Maddux. They also have great young hitters like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Personally, I'm most scared of the Phillies, who have those big left-handed bats. Though Scott Eyre had a tough year with the Cubs before being dumped and later picked up by the Phils, I think he would be a better postseason late-inning southpaw option than anything the Cubs have to offer. Neal Cotts may have a World Series ring from the Southside, but I don't think he has any edge vs. Chase Utley or Ryan Howard. And, Phillies starters were very good in a four-gamer last month against the Cubs, which the Cubs split, but only just barely.