2000 Chicago White Sox
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|Chicago White Sox|
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Clinched Division: September 24, 2000
Managed by Jerry Manuel
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2000 Chicago White Sox made up for a lack of starting pitching with their powerful bats. The team led the high-scoring 2000 AL in runs. Veteran designated hitter Frank Thomas led the way, hitting .328 with 43 home runs and 143 runs batted in. Young outfielders Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee each hit over .300, and first baseman Paul Konerko slugged 21 homers. Mike Sirotka led the pitching staff with 15 wins and a 3.79 ERA. The White Sox led the American League Central by 10 1/2 games at the All-Star break and survived a late season challenge by the Cleveland Indians to win the division. However, they were swept in the American League Division Series by the Seattle Mariners.
2000 Opening Day Lineup
Ray Durham, 2b
Jose Valentin, ss
Frank Thomas, 1b
Magglio Ordonez, rf
Paul Konerko, dh
Chris Singleton, cf
Carlos Lee, lf
Craig Wilson, 3b
Mike Sirotka, p
The 2000 White Sox did not enter spring training amid high expectations; the team was thought of by many as little more than another step in the rebuilding process. The marketing slogan remained unchanged from the year before: "Hey, the Kids Can Play!" Likewise, the roster was very similar to the previous season's. Ray Durham, Paul Konerko, Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez, and Frank Thomas remained the nucleus of the offense, while Mike Sirotka, James Baldwin, and Jim Parque were expected to carry the rotation. Bobby Howry, Keith Foulke, and Bill Simas all returned to round out the bullpen.
What changes were made, seemed rather insignificant at the time. In November of 1999, Ron Schueler signed journeyman reliever Kelly Wunsch, and in January 2000, he traded for a pair of oft-injured veterans: Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin.
The White Sox began the season with a ten-game road trip that kicked off in Texas. The Rangers took the opener with ease, blasting 7 runs off Sirotka en route to a 10-4 victory, and then took the second game 12-8. The Sox shook the doldrums in game number three, breaking a 7-7 tie with five runs in the top of the ninth. The rally sparked a four-game winning streak, and the Sox returned to Chicago with a 6-4 record.
The ensuing home stand included several memorable moments. Unusually warm weather brought forth a sellout crowd for the Friday night opener against the Anaheim Angels, and the Sox responded with a 9-4 victory. A few days later, the team scored 18 runs in a victory against the Seattle Mariners. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the month came on Saturday, April 22nd, when the White Sox and Detroit Tigers broke into a series of brawls that led to 16 suspensions and 25 fines.
After a successful April, the White Sox found themselves struggling to stay afloat in early May. The Sox won just two of the month's first ten games. The low point was a sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, with the White Sox giving up 28 runs in the three-game series. Despite their troubles, the Sox never completely relinquished their throne atop the division, but they did have to share it for three days.
Two series in particular helped the Sox to stay on course. The first was a four-game set in Toronto. The White Sox won three of four games against the Blue Jays, allowing a total of ten runs. The second crucial series was at home against the Indians, a series in which the White Sox won two games and Jose Valentin went 4 for 11 with 2 doubles a home run and a triple.
When May came to a close, the White Sox had a 1.5 game lead over Cleveland in the division, a 30-22 record, and a new utility infielder: Tony Graffanino.
If May was a test of the White Sox perseverance, June was the team's reward. In contrast to the 2-8 start to May, the White Sox won eight of the first ten games in June. The month began with three consecutive interleague series. The Sox won two against the Astros, swept the Reds, and then took two from the Cubs. In the first game of the cross-town rivalry, Ray Durham delivered a clutch single in the bottom of the fourteenth inning to give the White Sox a 6-5 win.
On June 12th, the Sox began a seven game road trip that was composed of three games in Cleveland and four against the Yankees. The White Sox won the first game against the Indians, narrowly hanging on for an 8-7 win. Ray Durham gave the Sox a 4-3 win in the second game of the series, hitting a home run in the 10th inning. The Sox cruised to an 11-4 win in the finale to preserve the sweep. The Sox then took care of business in the Bronx, winning 12-3, 3-1, 10-9, and 17-4. The seven-game road trip grabbed the national headlines and won the faith of the Chicago fans. When the Sox returned home for a series with Cleveland, the team took the field to a standing ovation from a sellout crowd.
The Sox were 20-7 in June, boosting their overall record to 50-29. The division lead swelled to 9.5 games.
July was a month of highs and lows. The first of the lows was losing two of three at Wrigley Field to the Cubs. The White Sox took game one of the series in the twelfth inning, thanks to a Frank Thomas single and Herbert Perry double. The heroics went for naught, as the Sox pitching staff gave up 18 runs in the final two games of the series.
The next series was at home against the Cardinals. The Cards devastated White Sox pitching, winning the first game 13-4, and the second game 9-4. Looking to end a four-game losing skid, the White Sox bats showed up in the third and final game of the series, smashing six doubles and a home run in a 15-7 victory. The win sparked a five-game winning streak that included a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Heading into August, the White Sox had a record of 64-41 and a 10.5 game lead in the division standings. Many fans hoped the Sox would add a veteran starting pitcher at the trade deadline, but they would have to settle for All-Star catcher, Charles Johnson, who was acquired in a deadline swap with the Orioles. Johnson would go on to slug over .600 in 44 games for the White Sox.
As the months of summer turned over, winning was starting to come at a price. Baldwin, Sirotka, and Parque did not seem to be running as smoothly in the season’s second half, and Eldred suffered an arm injury. The Sox found themselves relying heavily on contributions from the inexperienced arms of Kip Wells, Jon Garland, Kevin Beirne and Mark Buehrle. With such a volatile pitching staff, the White Sox longest winning streak in August was only two games.
The Sox did manage to win four series in August. The first was against the Oakland Athletics in Chicago. Oakland took the first game of the series, but the White Sox stole the second game on a walk off double from Frank Thomas. James Baldwin tossed eight shut out innings to give the Sox a 13-0 win in the third game. The next three series victories were on the road, in Tampa, Seattle, and Oakland.
At the month's end, the White Sox were 79-54, and the Indians had crept to within 7.0 games of first place.
The Sox started off the season's final month with a bang, sweeping the Angels at Comiskey Park. Texas came to town after the Angels series, and history was made on September 6th, as Scott Sheldon played all nine positions in a single game for the Rangers. The White Sox won the game 13-1
The division clincher came on September 24th, in Minnesota. The game itself was a thriller. The Sox took a 5-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning, only to give four runs right back in the bottom of the inning. The Twins tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, and won it on a Matt Lawton home run in the bottom of the tenth. The Sox lost the game, but a Cleveland loss meant that the White Sox had won the division crown.
The White Sox took two of three from the Royals in the final series of the regular season. The team's final record was 95-67; they won the division by 5.0 games.
Main Article: 2000 ALDS2
The White Sox fell to the Seattle Mariners in three games in the division series. For the Sox, it was a complete meltdown. Manager Jerry Manuel said after the second game: "We appear to be kind of uncharacteristically out of our thing right now."
The Mariners won the first two games at Comiskey Park, and then won the series in Seattle. The same Sox offense that blitzed opposing pitchers during the regular season scored just six runs in the three-game series.
It was an unfortunate ending to a great season. A team that entered the year as an afterthought finished with more wins than any other team in the American League. Changes would be ahead for the Sox, as new GM Kenny Williams would take the team on a quest for the World Series title.
- Avg: Thomas, .328
- HR: Thomas, 43
- RBI: Thomas, 143
- SB: Durham, 25
- W: Sirotka, 15
- ERA: Sirotka, 3.79
- SO: Sirotka, 128
- SV: Foulke, 34
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: James Baldwin, Ray Durham and Magglio Ordonez
- AL Comeback Player of the Year Award: Frank Thomas
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Magglio Ordonez (OF) and Frank Thomas (1B)
- AL Manager of the Year Award: Jerry Manuel
- Associated Press: "White Sox clinch title; Mariners up by a game", Deseret News, September 25, 2000