On the strength of a masterful pitching performance by John Danks and a towering home run by Jim Thome, the Chicago White Sox are AL Central Division Champions. The Chi Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 1-0 on Tuesday night and will now face the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
Thome broke a scoreless tie leading off the seventh with a booming 461-foot home run to center off of Nick Blackburn, who was just about as masterful as Danks on the mound. Thome pumped his fist as he rounded first base, following one of the biggest home runs among the 541 he has launched during his illustrious career.
That slim run total was enough for Danks, who allowed two hits over eight innings. Danks matched his longest outing of the year by going eight, striking out four and walking three. Danks threw 103 pitches working on three days’ rest, giving the White Sox a 3-1 record with their starters going on the short break, before giving way to Bobby Jenks.
The Sox haven’t looked good the past two weeks, but none of that matters now. Danks was absolutely incredible and playing at home on a chilly night in Chicago was the perfect remedy to quiet the Twins’ bats.
Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rays will show any rust after clinching a postseason berth over a week ago. While the Sox have a disadvantage having to start on the road, they almost have to feel like they’re playing with house money right now. Momentum is a dangerous thing. Game 1 will start at 2:30 PM ET Thursday at Tropicana Field.