Guardians sweep Sox out of central race, playoff hopes are dire Originally appeared NBC Sports Chicago
In a best-case scenario, the white socks He would sweep the Guardians this week to enter the first place match at AL Central and set up an exciting race to finish the regular season.
The worst case scenario was – you guessed it – what happened over the past three days in the guaranteed price field.
Cleveland ended a three-game sweep campaign Thursday that not only buried the White Sox in the AL Central race, but also knocked them out of the playoff picture altogether with 12 games remaining in the season.
“It’s tough,” said Gavin Sheets after the 4-2 loss, in which his solo career at home had half the Sox offensive.
“162 obviously doesn’t come down to three games, but we knew what we had to do in this series and we just couldn’t do it.”
Cleveland may snatch AL Central as soon as Sunday. Their magic number is five, which is to secure the tiebreak (showdown record) on the Sox this week.
Meanwhile, the White Sox qualifying number in the AL Wild Card race is seven. They returned 6 and 1/2 of the Mariners to last place. They are also 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles, the first team behind Seattle.
“It’s disappointing. It’s disappointing,” Sheets added of the Cleveland campaign. “But it’s not just this series. We had to play better all season.
“Obviously this was a huge streak, and we weren’t able to get through it. They play baseball great, but it definitely wasn’t just about the streak.”
That moment of honesty from Sheets was an echo of one from a teammate Lance Lynn a day ago, After Lynn was asked if it was a surprise that the Sox came back as far back as they were late in the season.
“Nothing surprises you,” Lynn said Wednesday. “Especially when you play like sh — all year long. We’ve been six matches all year long it seems.
“We still have some time, but we put ourselves in a hole, that’s for sure.”
Thursday’s loss saw the Sox drop seven games from the top spot – their biggest deficit of the season. It’s no secret that they’ve been wildly contradictory, if not insanely contradictory for the past five months.
Pre-season favorites AL Central picked a lot for Lee for a deep post-season tour and have finished first in the division for eight days this season. Sox led Central by no more than two games, and that was in the second week of the season.
One of their best spells this year came in the past three weeks, thanks to acting CEO Miguel Cairo, who led the team to a record 13-9 in the absence of Tony La Russa.
“Since August 31, they have decided to play and they have decided to fight,” Cairo said after Thursday’s loss. “They have gone and done everything and I am proud.
“I’m proud of what they were doing. Just because we lost this series, if you look back from August 31, we won, what six series, and they fought. They give it all. We just failed to get into a really good team. This team is really good.”
The Guardians, to their credit, captured a full grasp of the oath with a strong September (15-7). The Sox are still mathematically alive, but it will take a superhero finish over the last 12 games, and a lot of help, to secure a third straight berth after the season is over.
Despite his solidity with the Sox team playing under Cairo, there was so little time, it was too late.
“We’ve had our impulses playing baseball really well, but they haven’t been consistent enough,” Sheets said. “That’s why I said it’s definitely not about those three games.
“I think we can all agree that we should have played better baseball. It’s frustrating.”
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