CHICAGO – It’s do-or-die time for the White Sox with the first of three games against the Twins.
Subscribing to that old adage that you can’t get a sweep until you win the first game, the White Sox will try to accomplish their bigger goals by thinking small at the outset.
“We don’t need a sweep, we need to win the first game,” said manager Ozzie Guillen, whose team trails Minnesota by six games in the standings. “We need to win the series. We’ll see what happens. Sweeping that Minnesota team is not easy.”
A sweep will almost surely be necessary, though. Winning two of the three games would only allow the White Sox to pick up a game in the standings. Trailing by five games with 16 remaining wouldn’t be an impossible recovery, but with the way the Twins are playing it seems unlikely. After this series, the Twins have Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto on the schedule.
“Just play as hard as you can tonight,” Paul Konerko said. “You can’t worry about tomorrow night. It kind of simplifies everything. We know what’s at stake and we know where we’re at in the standings and it should dial us in to playing as hard a nine innings as we can tonight. We’ll see what happens after that.
“If it’s good we’ll move on to tomorrow night and if it’s bad we’ll move on to tomorrow night. Nine innings, three hours, give everything you’ve got. It’s pretty simple. Give everything you’ve got whatever it is you’re doing out there, whether it’s pitching, hitting, fielding, running the bases. You just focus in on the job you have at that moment and do the best you can and it will be fine either way.”
As for newcomer Manny Ramirez, he’s been through plenty of these stretch drives with Boston and Los Angeles so he knows how to play it cool at this time of the year.
“It's never over,” Ramirez said. “We have 19 games left so it's never over. You just have to try and win every game no matter who you're playing.”
Ramirez said he doesn’t know what to expect from the Twins’ Tuesday starter Francisco Liriano since he hasn’t been in the American League for about 2 1/2 years, but he had more to say about the entire Minnesota squad.
“They're always there, especially in the second half.” Ramirez said. “They've got a great hitting team, a great pitching team and all we got to do is battle. Like I said, we've got to win every game.”