CHICAGO | Following Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the underachieving White Sox must now face the cold facts.
Their lurching duel with the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central title is likely to go down to the last day of the season next Wednesday in Cleveland.
Or maybe beyond, to a game No. 163 at Detroit's Comerica Park.
Gordon Beckham was succinct and Paul Konerko was, as usual, expansive on the topic.
“It looks like that,” Beckham said of the down-to-the-wire concept. “That’s the way it’s going. I guess we kind of knew that.”
Added Konerko: “There’s enough (games to alter that outcome). Not quite there yet. Maybe this weekend that question will be (more applicable). Literally 48 hours can change the whole complexion.
“But why not? It’s seems it could. I hope not. I hope we clinch before that. But now we just have to assume we are going to walk in here (Wednesday) even, which is fine, and just be ready to fight. That’s not a bad place to be, either, even with eight games left."
The last week-plus of the season also pushes season-long trends out the window.
Konerko slugged the last of three Sox solo homers in the ninth off Indians closer Chris Perez. Coming in, the Sox were 43-13 in multiple-homer games.
They were 71-38 when hitting at least one homer.
But the Indians overcame those numbers, thanks to right hander Cory Kluber’s best start of the season.
Kluber (2-4, 5.02 ERA) allowed back-to-back homers by A.J. Pierzynski (No. 27) and Dayan Viciedo (No. 22), but little else.
Pierzynski’s shot made him the second most prodigious seasonal home-run hitter for a catcher in Sox history.
Yet the Sox, in a hitting slump, especially with runners in scoring position, had their best opportunity in the first when Konerko and Alex Rios were retired after two walks put a runner at second with one out.
Alexei Ramirez and Alejandro De Aza also were thrown out trying to steal in the second and third innings, respectively.
Manager Robin Ventura is trying to pull out all the stops, at least pitching-wise. After Francisco Liriano had another ineffective start, Ventura used starter Jose Quintana on his bullpen day to retire the first two Indians in the seventh.
Lefty Hector Santiago will start today. Then the first three starters for the Tampa Bay series will be Jake Peavy on five days rest Thursday, Gavin Floyd Friday and Chris Sale on normal rest Saturday.
No pitcher has yet been announced for the home regular-season finale Sunday.