Chicago drops the ball
This is not how the Chicago White Sox envisioned the final week of what had been such a successful season.
They've lost five straight, played ugly baseball along the way, fallen out of first, and then failed to take advantage of two straight opportunities to reclaim the top spot in the AL Central.
"I don't know how to describe it - lucky?" manager Ozzie Guillen said after last night's 12-6 loss to the Indians in Chicago.
Lucky from the standpoint that somehow, despite the collapse, the White Sox are still alive entering their 161st game of the regular season today.
The Indians got seven strong innings from Zach Jackson (2-3) and a three-run double from Asdrubal Cabrera off struggling Javier Vazquez to keep the White Sox a half-game behind the Twins in the AL Central.
The Twins, who lost at home to the Royals but still hold a half-game lead on the White Sox, can win the division title today with a victory and a White Sox loss.
If the margin stays at a half-game after today, the White Sox will play Detroit tomorrow in a makeup game at US Cellular Field. Should the White Sox and Twins end up tied, they would meet in a one-game tiebreaker Tuesday - also in Chicago.
The White Sox got a break when Indians ace Cliff Lee, a 22-game winner, was scratched from his final start today because of a stiff neck. He'll be replaced by Bryan Bullington.
Royals 4, Twins 2 - Ryan Shealy blooped a two-run single as resurgent Kansas City handed host Minnesota its second straight defeat.
The Royals have won 13 of their last 15 games, including eight straight on the road, their longest streak since 1975.
Gil Meche (14-11) pitched into the seventh, getting two innings to end on double plays. The Twins left 11 runners on base and grounded into two more DPs against Royals relievers.
The seventh inning was the most egregious waste of opportunity for Minnesota, when Carlos Gomez reached on a throwing error by third baseman Alex Gordon and Denard Span followed with a walk.
Alexi Casilla popped up his bunt attempt for the first out after John Bale relieved Meche. Joe Mauer walked to load the bases, but Justin Morneau - 3 for 20 on the homestand - hit a bouncer to shortstop on the first pitch he saw for a routine double play. The Twins left eight runners on against Meche.
In other games: Miguel Cabrera homered and Dontrelle Willis had his best outing of a lost season, helping the host Detroit Tigers beat the Rays, 4-3, a day after Tampa Bay clinched the East title. Gary Sheffield went 0 for 2 with two walks, leaving him with 499 homers. He will have one or two more chances at reaching 500 this season, depending on whether the Tigers have to go to Chicago for a makeup game tomorrow ... In Seattle, Kenji Johjima hit a three-run homer during a six-run first inning as the Mariners routed the Athletics, 7-3 ... The Orioles ended their 10-game losing streak, using a solid performance by Brian Bass (4-4) to beat the Blue Jays, 2-1, in Baltimore in a game halted by rain in the seventh inning .... Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis hit consecutive home runs as visiting Texas beat Los Angeles, 8-4.