CHICAGO (CBS) — The White Sox clinched the American League Central Division title on Friday, beating the Cleveland Indians 7-2 in the first game of a doubleheader.
Tim Anderson hit two home runs and drove in four to lead the White Sox to the win, which officially sends them to the playoffs for the second year in a row, the first time in the team’s history they’ve made the postseason in consecutive years.
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A.L. CENTRAL CHAMPS!
The White Sox capture their first American League Central title since 2008. pic.twitter.com/5TkgKN3zIy
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 23, 2021
Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez also homered for the White Sox.
Manager Tony La Russa pulled starter Reynaldo Lopez with one out in the fourth inning, after only 65 pitches, when Bobby Bradley hit a solo shot to make it a 7-2 game. Garrett Crochet, Aaron Bummer, Craig Kimbrel, and Liam Hendriks combined for 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to seal the victory.
The White Sox lost the second game of their doubleheader against Cleveland 5-3. The Indians’ Oscar Mercado broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run homer in the seventh. The White Sox had been down 3-2 entering the seventh, but Gavin Sheets scored and tied the game before Mercado brought Cleveland back to the top.
The White Sox began the season among the favorites to win the World Series, and have had sole possession of first place in the AL Central since May 7, holding a lead of as much as 12.5 games.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Chilly Tonight, Sunny And Cool Weekend
It’s the first time the White Sox have won the AL Central crown since 2008, and only their third playoff appearance since winning the 2005 World Series.
After building a commanding division lead in the first half of the season, the White Sox have struggled in the second half this year, but have managed to maintain a stranglehold on the division.
Coming into Friday’s doubleheader against the Indians, the White Sox were only 31-31 since the All-Star Break.
Even before clinching the division, the White Sox have been preparing for postseason play by getting extra rest for their players, particularly their starting rotation, which has been dominant at times during the season.
The White Sox can now spend the rest of the regular season keeping players fresh, and deciding who will make the playoff roster.MORE NEWS: Sky Cruise To 86-50 Win Over Mercury, Take 2-1 Lead In WNBA Finals
Veteran starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, despite having more playoff experience than any starter other than Lance Lynn, might not make the playoff rotation, after struggling this season with a 5.18 ERA.