Tonight, the Indians and White Sox were locked in a chess match that ended with a 7-6 Chicago win in the tenth on a walk-off, leadoff Joe Crede home run, his second on the night. The Sox are now 3-1/2 games up on the Indians but more importantly, four up in the proverbially all important loss column. The rubber match is tomorrow, and the Indians could again close within 2.5.
But make no mistake: this was a big loss. As for the Indians, their fate is now not their own. Consider that the two teams have four games remaining against each other, meaning that if the Indians sweep all four games and all other things are equal, the best they can achieve is a tie. They would have to hope to outplay the Sox in the games against other opponents.
That might not be that difficult given that the Indians have to play the abysmal Royals and Devil Rays while Chicago draws the at least passable Twins and Tigers.
The game itself was neck and neck the whole way. The Indians led 2-0 until the bottom of the second, 3-2 in the top of the fourth, and 5-3 in the top of the seventh. The Sox led 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh and then again in the last at-bat of the game, 7-6. The two were tied 2-2 at the end of the second, 3-3 at the end of the third, and 6-6 from the middle of the ninth until the last at-bat. Cleveland had more leads but Chicago had the one that counted.
Should the Indians catch the Sox, they'll go down as the biggest goats since the 1964 Phils or 1914 Giants. But it will be undeserved. At least so far the Sox have not crumbled in September. Their record is 11-8 so far this month while the Indians are 14-4. Here are their monthly breakdowns by month followed by the standings at the end of each month:
I don't think one bad month should consign them to baseball purgatory with Mauch's Phils, especially when the Indians have been so hot.