The Tigers moved to even standing with the White Sox on Tuesday when Detroit defeated the Kansas City Royals and the Sox fell to the Cleveland Indians. Both teams play the same opponents on Wednesday and both have eight games remaining.
“It's an eight-game season,” White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said prior to Wednesday’s game. “That's what it comes down to. Just tonight's game, that's what it focuses on. Just go out and play a solid nine innings, do our job. That's all we can control at this point. Tonight, here and forget anything before here or what will happen after tonight. Just go out and give everything you've got for three, four hours, whatever it takes and then we'll see.”
White Sox reliever Matt Thornton doesn’t believe the mood has changed since the Sox last left the ballpark.
“I don’t sense any panic at all,” Thornton said. “I think everyone is focused on doing what they need to do to win as many ballgames as possible.”
White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn concurred.
“There’s no pressure,” Dunn said. “What’s the pressure? You’re going out playing hard every day like you did from Day 1. Just because there’s eight days, you’re tied for first … You can make pressure from anything. Anybody can add pressure. Once you add pressure, it’s hard to work that way.”
The White Sox have had at least a share of the division lead since July 24. Over the last 63 days, their advantage over the Tigers hasn’t been greater than three games. The two teams were previously tied for first on Sept. 2 after the Tigers had swept the White Sox in a three-game series.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes that because his team has faced a tight race for so long it hasn’t altered its mentality.
“The sense is not that you’ve had a 20-game lead, but now it’s gone,” Ventura said. “This how the mentality of the whole season has been. We’re just going to go play.
“You wish you were playing better but you have one of those games. The mood when they come in, they’re resilient. They understand what’s going on. They realize they have to play better.”
The White Sox are optimistic a good stretch, especially offensively, is around the corner. They have scored more than three runs just once in their past eight games.
“We’ve been a team offensively where we go in these little funks,” said Dunn, who has four RBIs in the past eight games. “We’ve done it all year. Every time we’ve come out of it, we’ve come out in a big way. I think we’re pretty due to bust out of it and get hot at the right time.”