Friday, August 4, 2006
The Devil Rays did the idle White Sox a favor yesterday, beating the Tigers to shrink Detroit's Central Division lead to eight games and the Magic Number to 64. Boston lost too, so the Sox trail the Red Sox by only a half game for the Wild Card berth.
The Sox resume play tonight in Toronto, with Jon Garland, the team's hottest pitcher of late, opposing Blue Jay ace, Roy Halladay (13-2 record). The series promises to be a slugfest, as the two best-hitting teams in baseball -- Toronto, .291; Sox, .286 -- face off. After Halladay, Sox hitters' eyes should get big. Dustin McGowan, slated to pitch Saturday against Javier "Don't let him pitch the third time through the lineup" Vazquez, has a 1-1 record with a 10.80 ERA. A.J. Burnett, Toronto's Sunday pitcher, is struggling as well, with a 2-5 record and 4.84 ERA. In fact, the Blue Jays as a whole are finding the game a bit difficult lately, having lost five in a row and nine out of the last 12.
Just what the doctor ordered for the Good Guys, but then the Sox will have to take their medicine. Because of a makeup game, they face three teams in three days: Toronto, L.A, and New York on Sunday through Tuesday. The makeup means that the Sox play 24 games without a day off. And they play the likes of the Yankees, Tigers and Twins over that period. This will be a good test of what kind of team they are. Contender or pretender? Right now, they've got the fifth-best record in the majors, behind the Tigers, Yanks, Mets, and Boston. If that's still the case after this stretch, buckle your seat belts for a wild (or Wild Card) ride the rest of the way. Go Sox!
P.S. I'll be on vacation after today, so reporting may be spotty for about a week.