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The difference for Sox, Tigers was defense

Omar Infante threw in the dirt after Alex Rios' break-up slide on Sunday. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

KANSAS CITY -- The key to the White Sox supremacy in the Central Division is easily detected if you look at the pivotal play from Monday's win over Detroit.

Many people are concentrating on the Alex Rios take-out slide in the fifth inning that allowed two runs to score in the 5-4 Sox victory. Certainly that was an important play, but the key to the Sox all season has been defense.

And that's what cost the Tigers on the crucial play.

The throw from Omar Infante to Prince Fielder was in the dirt and allowed two runs to score. If the ball was handled by Fielder nobody would be talking about Rios doing his job breaking up the double-play.

The distinction between winning and losing boils down to making the play on the other end of a hurried throw. In this instance, Fielder did not make the play on two levels. He fanned on the ball in the dirt. That is certainly not his fault and goes down as an error on Infante. But if Fielder thought that the throw was not playable he probably should have come off of the bag and blocked the ball. He could have prevented the go-ahead run from scoring.

This is not meant to diminish Fielder, who is a great player, or the Tigers, who are a very good team. But if it were Paul Konerko at first base you can be sure that even though the fifth run might have scored the sixth run likely would have been held in check at third base.

The White Sox take infield practice at least four times a week, and that simple routine which most teams consider passé keeps Robin Ventura's club on its toes come game time.

"We play a lot of close games," Ventura said. "If we don't play good defense , we are not giving ourselves a good chance to win. Part of the reason we are in the position we are in is because we take pride in it (defense) and I want it played well. If you can limit the other side it helps you."