A.J. Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox high-fives Alex Rios at home plate after Rios hit a three-run home run scoring Dewayne Wise and Paul Konerko against the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Monday night, a couple of huge-looking series opened up, and in both cases the team that was ahead in the standings ended the evening farther ahead, which is good for those teams but not as good for us fans. Which doesn't mean things can't turn around tonight, at least for a moment. Otherwise there wasn't much going on, unless you're tracking the battle for the American League basement (not that we're judging or anything). Anyway, Monday night's big ones, and what they meant ...
White Sox 6, Tigers 1: At the very worst, the Chicago White Sox will enter next weekend with a share of first place in the American League Central, and perhaps quite a bit more than a share. This, after the Sox beat the Tigers Monday night in the first game of their four-game series. Rookie Jose Quintana started for the White Sox, Rick Porcello for the Tigers. Quintana had been roughed up in his last couple of starts, but Monday night he pitched into the eighth inning, giving up just one run. Meanwhile, Porcello carried a shutout into the sixth. Not the seventh, though. First Alex Rios blasted a three-run homer, and A.J. Pierzynski followed up with another blast, his 26th of the season. Later, the Sox tacked on a couple of insurance runs.
Athletics 3, Orange County 1: The Oakland A's are hot. Really hot. On the 1st of June, the A's had the fourth-worst record in the majors; now they have the fifth-best record. Since the 1st of July, the A's have gone 43-18 and made up 10 games in the American League West standings. And they're on the verge of flat-out eliminating their Southern California rivals from postseason contention, after Monday night's 3-1 triumph. Starring for the A's: rookie starting pitcher Jarrod Parker, who went seven innings and earned his 10th victory. Anaheim's Dan Haren pitched well, too, but gave up single runs in the first, fifth, and sixth innings, the latter two coming on solo home runs from Brandon Moss and Cliff Pennington.
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Next Up: More White Sox and Tigers. More Athletics and Angels. Just as exciting, the Rays and Orioles open a three-game series in Baltimore, while the Red Sox try to salvage a shred of dignity by thwarting the Yankees' postseason plans. Speaking of dignity, the Indians might salvage some of their own by taking two or three games from the Rangers, who actually, shockingly, are now looking in their rear-view mirror at the hard-charging Athletics.