As a result, a certain Chicago pitcher named Mark Burehle pitched a great game tonight while Carl Pavano wasn't that sharp vs Chicago batting. And we can also blame the bullpen for allowing the game to get away from us.
In any case, I figured out the possible end game outcome of each of the seasons for Chicago and Minnesota. Results after the jump.
I took the chance to figure out the possible results for the Twins and White Sox and the results are not that good if we expect a pennant race down to the wire. Starting with this weekend, the results are based on the strength of schedule and current trends when it comes to the teams and games.
Chicago: Given that they have a tough schedule the rest of the way, three games are at home vs the Twins, but the truth is that 13 of their last 41 are vs the AL East and this includes Baltimore which looks like a much different team than the one that the Twins faced last month. In contrast, only four of the Twins last 41 games are vs an AL East opponent and that opponent is Toronto which will come to Target Field as the very last series of the season for the Twins before the postseason begins. Also of note, the White Sox have only six games left vs the AL West while the Twins have 16 games left. In that regard, the schedule will likely break down like this for Chicago:
The White Sox finish August with just four Wins. They will come this weekend with two vs Kansas City, one vs the Yankees on August 29, and one at Cleveland on August 31. Along with the September 1st win, I can see a 3-6 homestand in Chicago's future. The dates between the September 2nd and 13th off dates are also crucial for the Sox as they face a Red Sox team (on the road) fighting for the wild card as well as Detroit and Kansas City teams that would love nothing more than to spoil Chicago's season. The White Sox need win to keep pace and it is going to be hard, but doable if the Twins stumble. The White Sox will likely finish this stretch of the season with a 77-66 record.
Minnesota: The bad news is that the Twins next 10 games are vs the AL West. The good news is that the Twins went 3-1 to open the season at the Angels, crushed the Rangers Memorial Day Weekend, and destroyed Seattle on the back end of a tour of last place division teams. Given that we have the Angels at home, we should at least win two out of three, split at Texas, and sweep Seattle on the road. Following the August 29th game, I wouldn't surprise me that we are perfect in our next homestand. That would be 9-0 vs Detroit, Texas, and Kansas City. If the Twins were to sweep that homestand, Chicago can't afford any losses during that time period or their season is just about over. However, they face a stretch vs surging Baltimore, the Yankees, and Boston. Finally on the 10-13 of September, the Twins go to Cleveland for a three game set. The Twins will likely finish this stretch of the season with a 88-55 record.
As a result the Twins will likely be as much as 11 games up on the White Sox with 19 to go for both teams. This gives the Twins a magic number of 8.
Twins at White Sox (Final series of the season between the teams)
Game 1: Twins (89-55) win in convincing fashion and are up 12 on Chicago (77-67) with 18 to go. Magic Number is down to six.
Game 2: The White Sox (78-67) stage a major comeback in the ninth over Minnesota (89-56) with Andrew Jones the game hero. There are 17 games to go with Chicago 11 behind and the Magic number is still six.
Game 3: The Twins (90-56) win from behind in extras over Chicago (78-68) to increase the division lead to 12 with 16 to go and reducing the magic number to four.
Friday September 17: The Twins (91-56) win again vs Oakland to start a six game homestand. Meanwhile Chicago wins in their game vs Detroit to improve to 79-68, and remain 12 games back with 15 to go. The Magic number is now three.
Saturday September 18: The White Sox (79-69) fall to Detroit and the Twins (92-56) beat Oakland to increase the division lead to 13 games with only 14 to go, and the magic number is one.
Sunday September 19: The White Sox (80-69) win to complete a series victory over the Tigers, however, the Twins (93-56) clench a tie for the AL Central for the second straight year with a win and series sweep vs Oakland. The lead remains 13 with 13 to go.
Monday September 20: The White Sox make their way to Oakland knowing one thing that they have to win their final 13 games of the season and pray that the Twins have a 13 game losing streak, however it is not to be as the White Sox who win to improve to (81-69) on the season, see their chances of winning the AL Central come to a end as the Twins (94-56) clench the division with a victory over Cleveland.
Overall I can easily see Chicago finishing with a 86-76 record, but they will likely not get to 94-96 wins. Meanwhile, given the way the Twins are playing, I can see them ending up with a 101-61 record, but we will likely get anywhere from 96-100 wins on the season. Still, this season, like all, represent challenges as the Twins had a 9-9 Interleague record while Chicago finished that portion of the season with a 16-3 record.
Postseason: I am not saying that everything is certain, but the Twins will likely be facing a AL East opponent to start the postseason. However, I can expect it to be the Boston Red Sox since the Yankees are slumping. I believe that the AL East will come down to the final weekend of the season and if Boston could easily steal the Wild Card or Division in the last week of the season and leave us to face New York. No matter who we face, we will have the benefit of rested starters compared to last season. If you give Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano, they could be wonderful during a short series. Ron Gardenhire might start LIriano in game one with Pavano working game two and Brian Dunesing and Kevin Slowey working games three and four. This would leave either Liriano or Pavano to start game five if necessary with the other starting game one of the ALCS which will likely be against Boston, Tampa Bay, or New York though drawing Texas would be nice.
At this point, let's assume we go the distance in the ALDS and Pavano starts on short rest and pitches a gem. We then have Liriano for game one and would then have Dunesing and Slowey for games two and three. In order to avoid a possible situation where Brian Dunesing would start game one of the World Series, I would pitch Carl Pavano in game four and Liriano for game five and leave Dunesing and Slowey or Scott Baker to pitch games six and seven. Regardless of who we meet, given the firepower in the lineup, it is very likely that we could face the same situation that hit us in both 1987 and 91 where we won the pennant in five games. That is how good this team is right now.
World Series: Again, I don't know who we will meet, but If I had a guess it would be Philadelphia and the Twins have proven that they can beat them when we weren't playing that good in June. If that is the case, I have every reason to expect World Championship number three with us splitting games one and two in Philadelphia and clenching at home in five.