White Sox 3, Indians 2

Reprinted from yesterday's editions

This is truly the most disastrous scenario playing out for the Cleveland Indians, an inspiring story in this baseball season that now appears to be facing a sad ending. Their rivals, the Chicago White Sox, had seemingly handed them a win by sending out a modest lineup that included just two regular starters. If there was a game to be won in this crucial three-game series for Cleveland, Friday's was it.

Yet Cleveland trailed early, made a stirring comeback in the ninth inning, was pushed to extra innings, squandered several opportunities as the minutes churned on this long Friday night, before finally having its playoff hopes perhaps dashed when Chicago first baseman Ross Gload, one of those unknown hitters in the lineup, sent a two-run double to right-center in the 13th inning against reliever Fernando Cabrera, giving the White Sox a 3-2 win. Chicago clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"We have two games left and these guys have stepped it up all year," Indians Manager Eric Wedge said. "They have been mentally tough. I just have a strong belief in every individual in that locker room."

Yet there weren't many Indians in the locker room shortly after the game. The loss had seemed so devastating the clubhouse cleared after only 20 minutes. The Indians, who have lost four of five, now trail the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees by one game.

"We'll bounce back as tough as this one is to swallow," Indians third baseman Aaron Boone said. "I don't worry about us bouncing back."

The unheralded Chicago lineup was taped to a wall in the clubhouse with names, two known and seven unknown, written in with a black felt tip pen in almost perfect manuscript. On top of the card was the official mark of Major League Baseball, ensuring that no matter how unusual it seemed, this was in fact the lineup of the White Sox and not one of Chicago's minor league affiliates.

"Why did I make the lineup like that?" White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You want to hear the truth? Because I'm the manager."

Guillen then burst into a cackle.

"A couple guys need rest," Guillen said. "They've been playing a lot of baseball. I've got to give some guys a day off. That's the reason why I made the lineup like that. Hey, I've got to rest my players. Tomorrow will be the regular lineup."

Friday's lineup made it evident that this three-game series between the White Sox and the Cleveland Indians meant more for one team than the other. For Guillen, this was the opportunity to exhale after what appeared to be a laugher of a division chase suddenly turned hot in the final month. On Thursday afternoon, the White Sox finally clinched the American League Central Division title. On Thursday night they celebrated. On Friday they rested.

"Our manager is doing his best to win the game and to prepare his team for the playoffs," White Sox General Manager Ken Williams said.

What horror though for Cleveland when in the first inning Joe Borchard, who had all of five at-bats coming into the game batted cleanup, put the first two men on base against Kevin Millwood.