08/20/2003 8:04 PM ET
Notes: One day at a time
Chance for first doesn't blur Whtie Sox's focus
CHICAGO -- Most of the players and coaches in the White Sox clubhouse were well aware of the Yankees' 8-7 victory over Kansas City Wednesday afternoon, completing a three-game sweep of the first-place Royals.
Coupled with the KC loss, a victory by the White Sox over the Angels Wednesday night would create a virtual deadlock at the top of the American League Central. But none of the players on the South Side were doing cartwheels or exchanging high fives over a chance to move into
first with 35 games remaining -- not after they were three games behind just three days ago.
"I haven't paid much attention to what they are doing," said White Sox closer Tom Gordon of the Royals' three straight losses in New York. "Hopefully for us, we just win our games.
"We've played very hard the last couple of days. For this team to contend, we have to take care of ourselves and everything else should be okay."
The race in the Central Division figures to play out right down to the final weekend of the season, with the White Sox in Kansas City for four games and Minnesota in Detroit to play four. Even with the Twins' easy schedule during the final month, no one team from this trio figures to separate from the pack.
Since June 20th, the White Sox have a 17-7 record against teams with winning records and are 14-15 against teams with losing records. It's been a mantra from White Sox manager Jerry Manuel and his team all season -- when they are good, they can play with even the best of teams.
When they are bad, they can lose three straight at Comerica Park to Detroit. But with a power-packed lineup and a solid front-end of the rotation in Mark Buehrle, Bartolo Colon and Esteban Loaiza, the White Sox could contend if they get to the postseason -- contrary to the common belief that the Central winner will be one series and done.
"It's a matter of getting everything together at the same time," said White Sox first baseman Brian Daubach. "We have never pitched and hit well at the same time."
"Whoever wins in this division, and I think we have the best shot, can give a team from the West or East a run for their money," Gordon added. "If we play the way we are capable of playing, we are a scary team to play."
Toeing the line: Joe Crede was sidelined for the third straight game with a sore toe on his left foot. Tony Graffanino once again started at third base.
"(Trainer) Herm (Schneider) is giving him some treatment," Manuel said of Crede. "But he should be ready to go tomorrow."
Crede is hitting .429 over a current 10-game hitting streak, one shy of his career best set in 2002. Graffanino is hitting .316 with 16 runs scored in his last 22 games played.
Manager in training: After losing five straight games on the most recent road trip, Daubach decided the White Sox needed a change before the start of Monday's game with the Angels. So, the veteran took the lineup card from Bruce Kimm and brought it to home plate, meeting with the
The White Sox won that game, 4-2, so Daubach was back out before the game Tuesday. The White won again, 5-2. Guess who brought the lineup card out prior to Wednesday's game?
"There's a lot of superstition in baseball," said Daubach with a smile of his new role. "On the first day, (Kimm) just wanted to make sure I knew all the ground rules. But in our park, there's not a whole lot to go over."
Daubach, who needs three hits for 500 in his career, received a rare start Wednesday against Angels' right-hander John Lackey. With a .233 average, five home runs and 16 RBIs, Daubach will finish well below his usual average production of 21 home runs and 75 RBIs.
But for a bench player in a pennant race, individual numbers don't really matter much at this point.
"Numbers pretty much won't change this late in the season, so now it's just baring down and helping the team get the victory," Daubach said. "It really should be that way from Day 1, but for a bench guy, it's much better playing in a pennant race."
Decision rendered: Albert Skutnik, 25, was sentenced to a 30-day deferred jail sentence and two years of probation Wednesday for running on to U.S. Cellular Field during the April 15th game against Kansas City.
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Colleen Sheehan also ordered Skutnik to undergo drug and alcohol evaluation, pay a $500 fine and perform 120 hours of community service.
The judge will decide later whether Skutnik must serve the 30-day jail sentence in February. Skutnik pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespass.
Tom Skutnik, 21, faces the same charge and has a court date next month. Tom is Albert's younger brother, the two young men being part of the four who ran on to the field during that particular game.
Down on the farm: Jamie Burke, who spent one week with the White Sox as a backup catcher, had three hits and two RBIs for Triple-A Charlotte Tuesday during the Knights' 7-5 loss in 10 innings to Durham. Aaron Miles, hitting .305 for Charlotte, had three doubles and two runs scored,
giving him 30 doubles and 71 runs.
Christopher Kelly, a sixth-round draft pick out of Pepperdine in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, had five hits -- including three doubles and a triple -- and drove in eight runs as Great Falls earned a split at Casper with a 17-11 victory in the second game of a doubleheader. Brandon McCarthy picked up the victory, despite giving up 11 earned runs on 12 hits in five innings, while striking out eight.
Robert Valido had three hits, raising his average to .315, during Bristol's 5-0 shutout at Bluefield. Sonny Suarez earned the victory, striking out five over seven innings.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.