This evening, the White Sox will do something at their own ballpark they haven't done in the past four home games: play the same team two days in a row. If you recall the end of the regular season, they beat the Indians on the last Sunday of the regular season to stave off elimination, the Tigers the next day in a makeup game, the Twins the next day in a tiebreaker game to win the AL Central, and the Rays yesterday to keep their hopes of advancing to the ALCS alive.
That's four must-win games and four wins. The Pale Hose hadn't won four straight home games against four different opponents since nineteen dickety-two when they toppled the New York Highlanders, the Cleveland Spiders, the Waffletown Syrups, and the Hackensack Bulls in four straight April games. Tonight is must-win game number five at US Cellular Field for the Sox, where they won an impressive 66% of their games during the regular season.
Gavin Floyd, who allowed just one run in six innings in that makeup win against the Tigers, will start for Chicago. He's never faced the Tampa Bay Rays but once gave up a ding-dong to Cliff Floyd while pitching for the Phillies. This has next to no bearing on tonight's contest, but the Freedom of Information Act demands that I share that nugget with you.
The Rays will send young Andy Sonnanstine out for battle. It's his playoff debut and, having thrown nearly 200 innings in only his second year in the majors, he might be a little tired. He hasn't won a game since August 18th. Still, he threw a complete game shutout against the ChiSox back in April but then was left with two no-decisions in two more starts against them where he allowed seven runs in twelve innings. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski had five hits in six 2008 at-bats against Sonnanstine while Jim Thome had a two-run dong off him back in August.
Expect Ozzie Guillen to slot Dewayne Wise in his lineup, maybe even as high up as the second slot where Wise batted for the last two weeks of the season. Expect Joe Maddon to put the lefty hitting Gabe Gross in right field and save Rocco Baldelli for some late inning pinch hittery. Expect us all to miss most of this game while we are commuting.