Bring me the arm of Freddy Garcia

Chicago’s Sunday win over Cleveland, combined with the Twins’ steady 6-0 victory over Kansas City, set up a Monday afternoon (1:05 pm Central) White Sox/Tigers game that will determine if Minnesota and Chicago require a Tuesday, one-game sudden-death playoff to settle the Central Division. Should Chicago lose, then the Twins would be your 2008 Central champs, and travel to Tampa to begin the ALDS on Thursday.

But before Tuesday or Thursday, according to my Gregorian calendar, comes Monday, a day and a ballgame in which Chicago needs a win over Detroit -- in a makeup game from mid-September -- to ascend their ½ game deficit and play another day.

As per Sunday, Twins’ ace Scott Baker was masterful, going 7 innings of scoreless ball, surrendering just 4 hits, and striking out 9. Joe Mauer had 2 hits and two RBI, holding his average at .330 and nearly cementing his bid for his second American League batting crown in three seasons. In 2006, Mauer became the first ever A.L. catcher to lay claim to such an achievement. As of this writing, Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Mauer’s chief competition for the title, was hitting .326 after going 2-for-4 in the first of Boston’s two games against the Yankees Sunday. He did not start the latter set on Sunday night. It should be readily noted, however, that should Minnesota and Chicago duel two days hence, the statistics from that contest would count toward the player’s regular season numbers.

Before looking that far ahead, however -- we have Monday. The White Sox have righty Gavin Floyd (16-8, 3.91 ERA) scheduled on three-days rest, while the Tigers, lamenting a woeful 2008, are sporting ex-White Sox Freddy Garcia (1-1, 4.50).

Garcia pitched for the Sox in parts of 2004, and then in 2005-’06, compiling a solid 40-21 record for the South Siders in 82 starts. For his career at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Garcia is an impressive 19-12, his second-highest win total in any MLB park.

Yet Garcia, now 33 and signed by Detroit to a minor league deal in August, is making just his third start of 2008. He’s won only two games since going 17-9 for the White Sox back in ’06. It should be noted that the fella has pitched in pressure situations before, as evidenced by his 9 postseason starts, and excellent 6-2 postseason record.

It’s come down to this, for now. Should Freddy not have his stuff tomorrow afternoon, then it will come to much more. But for a day, our boys rest, while we blissfully wait, watch, and surely enjoy something of what cannot be ignored as a wholly impressive and unexpected accomplishment.

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