CLEVELAND (AP) -- They couldn't defend their division crown, and
they won't repeat as AL or World Series champions.
On Monday night, the Chicago White Sox faded to black.
One season after they ended an 88-year title drought by storming
through October, the White Sox will watch the postseason unfold
this fall along with 22 other teams following a 14-1 loss to the
Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
Not long after being handed its most lopsided defeat of the
season, Chicago was eliminated from the playoff chase when the
Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 8-1 to secure at least
a wild-card berth.
"It's frustrating," Jim Thome said. "When you're a good team
you expect to go a lot farther. We're not going to where we want to
Casey Blake hit a grand slam -- Cleveland's major league
record-tying 14th this season -- to highlight an eight-run sixth
inning that finished off Jon Garland (17-7) and the White Sox on
this night -- and for all of 2006.
After shuffling into their clubhouse, the White Sox didn't even
bother tuning into the Twins' game on TV. Instead, a few Chicago
players kept an eye on Monday night's NFL game between Atlanta and
"I'm embarrassed for myself," said Garland, rocked for eight
earned runs and 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings. "Doing that is even hard
to do if you are throwing fastballs down the middle of the plate.
"We weren't prepared. We weren't ready to play baseball tonight
and it showed."
After adding Thome to their already powerful lineup with a trade
last winter, Chicago came into the year picked by most to make
another run at a World Series championship. But things didn't go
well from the start.
The White Sox first found themselves chasing the surprising
Detroit Tigers and then couldn't keep pace with the Twins, who
trailed Chicago by a half-game on Sept. 1 before pulling away.
A shaky bullpen, eight losses in 11 games and what so far is a
9-15 record in September doomed the White Sox.
"We didn't play up to expectations," manager Ozzie Guillen
said. "It was a disappointing year for me. I get paid to win games
and we didn't."
Lee (13-11) limited the White Sox to one run and four hits.
The Indians, whose season was as disappointing as Chicago's, had
the satisfaction of crushing the White Sox's postseason plans. A
year ago, the opposite was true as the White Sox swept a three-game
series in Cleveland on the season's final weekend to end the
Indians' playoff quest.
"It certainly doesn't make our season," Blake said. "But they
knocked us out last year and if we kept them from getting into the
playoffs, that's great."
After Guillen pulled Garland and headed back to the dugout, fans
seated near the field mimicked the choking gesture Chicago's
animated manager made toward them as the Indians collapsed in 2005.
Just as the Twins and Royals were getting underway in
Minneapolis, White Sox center fielder Brian Anderson and shortstop
Juan Uribe each made an error on one play in the fifth, helping the
Indians score twice to open a 6-1 lead.
The inning was a microcosm of Chicago's struggles all season.
"We didn't field good or hit good," Guillen said. "We have
been so inconsistent this year. It's hard to stay in a pennant race
when you play good for a couple of days and then bad."
The Indians broke it open in the sixth against Garland, who came
in with a major league-leading 11 road wins. Andy Marte had a
run-scoring double, Victor Martinez hit an RBI single and Ryan Garko doubled in two to end Garland's evening.
Blake then connected off reliever Boone Logan for his 17th homer
and second slam this season as the Indians tied the major league
record for bases-loaded homers in a season. They share it with the
2000 Oakland Athletics.
"It's a fairly dubious record, but I'd rather be in the
playoffs," Blake said.
Before the game, Guillen lamented Chicago's lack of fundamentals
as one of the biggest reasons the White Sox might not make the
playoffs. And in the first, catcher A.J. Pierzynski's error on a
throw to the plate helped the Indians score four runs.
Following the game, the subdued atmosphere in Chicago's
clubhouse was very different from a year ago when champagne
soakings were the norm.
"We just ran out of steam," Paul Konerko said. "Why? I don't
know. Sometimes that just happens."
Guillen credited manager Jim Leyland's arrival with helping
turn the Tigers around. "He gave them the best chance to win games
and did some good things for their clubhouse," he said. Guillen,
though, said Detroit's talent was the biggest difference-maker and
poked fun at any manager's contribution. "I've seen a lot of bad
managers win the World Series," he said. "You are talking to
one." ... The Indians have scored at least nine runs a
baseball-best 27 times. ... With Dye (43), Thome (42), Konerko (35)
and Crede (30), the White Sox have four players with 30 or more
homers for the first time. ... Garland is 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA in
his last three starts.