As the 2014 season’s crucial third month comes close to reaching its halfway point, the Chicago White Sox find themselves in a place that most people at the beginning of the season would never have expected: tied for third in the American League Central division and a mere three and a half games back of division leader the Detroit Tigers.
Better yet, the 2014 White Sox continued to show that they can actually not only compete with the Tigers but also be competitive in and around baseball despite being locked in the midst of a rebuilding, rebound year. Only rain and reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer prevented Chicago from a shot at sweeping a four-game series. Scherzer’s dominance in his first career complete game in the series finale emphasized one of the White Sox’ most recent weaknesses: their inability to provide ace Chris Sale with substantial run support.
Beyond the individual games, the AL Central has been the Tigers’ division for the past several seasons. Entering into 2014, it remained Detroit’s to lose, with the Cleveland Indians considered the Tigers’ top potential competitors. But early season struggles and surprises swiftly changed the divisional landscape.
The division’s schedule for the rest of June creates the possibility of even more shuffling. With the second-place Kansas City Royals coming into town next and a series against the last-place Minnesota Twins on the horizon, the White Sox have an opportunity knocking on their door to improve their position in the division. While the White Sox play the Royals, the Twins will have to play the Tigers in Detroit. Either way, as crunch time begins to hit the baseball season, one of the league’s most clearly-won divisions could become one of baseball’s most interesting down-to-the-wire races, especially if the White Sox can sustain themselves as the weather heats up.