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Friday, August 31, 2012
No denying White Sox-Tigers series is big

By Bruce Levine

DETROIT -- The final seven games between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers promise to have a strong impact on which team advances to the playoffs as American League Central Division champs.

Going into the weekend series, the Tigers had won seven of the first 11 meetings and four straight.

The key to the Sox’s success this season has been their focus on each game. That theory was sold to the 25-man roster by manager Robin Ventura and his coaching staff from spring training on.

“No matter what we do as managers the players are going to win or lose,” Ventura said. “They are the ones that play and do everything. (Tigers manager Jim Leyland and I) make a few decisions here and there but the players will be the ones to win the games.”

Although Ventura soft-sold the meaning of individual games and series until now, there is no getting around a three-game series against your top rival being important this time of the season.

Ventura believes that talking about things is basically a waste of time when it comes to the big games.

“Our guys have played well and they don’t listen to a lot of things people say,” Ventura said. “As competitors they don’t have to listen to what everybody says. You just go out and play and take care of it on the field. Make sure you don’t get caught up in it.”

If you don’t think the White Sox are way up for this series you would be wrong. The entire team was on the bench ready for batting practice at 5 p.m. when the stretching drills do not begin until 5:15. Ventura also had his team take infield practice, which they have done often in 2012, but this time around it had more of a purpose.

“They have been great at focusing on today and not thinking about a big build-up,” Ventura said going into the biggest games of the season. “They worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.”