11:19 PM CDT, June 18, 2012
Not one team in the American League Central has a winning record at home this season.
If the first-place White Sox can take care of business at U.S. Cellular Field, the division title could be attainable. The Sox are 16-19 at the Cell and 19-13 on the road. The second-place Indians are 18-18 at home after their victory Monday night over the Reds.
"It's nice that we're in (the race)," Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said Monday. "It is starting to get to that midpoint. There are going to be a lot of momentum shifts as we go."
The Indians, Tigers and Royals are within five games of the Sox.
"With that many teams bunched up … there are going to be some teams that fall to the wayside," Konerko said. "Hopefully we're not one of them.
"But as far as who is going to win it, it's probably going to come down to the last week, for sure, if not the last day. So you've just got to mentally prepare for that. Don't kill yourself every night if you don't win, but at the same time, you realize how important every game is. Balancing those things out is the hard part."
Konerko hit his 13th homer Monday night and his 20th against the Cubs.
Future consideratons: In addition to hitting a two-run homer in the third, Cubs slugger Bryan LaHair acquitted himself well in right field. Minor league power hitter Anthony Rizzo is speculated to be the Cubs' first baseman of the future.
On a night when warm winds were gusting at 41 mph at the start of the game, LaHair hauled in a tailing deep line drive by Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham in the first.
"He's not going to be playing center field anytime soon or covering both gaps or anything like that," Cubs President Theo Epstein said before the game. "But he does have good instincts, and he caught what he got to last year and handled himself well overall. That was the report we got. It is important to give him some time out there now if there is a possibility of him moving out there on a regular basis."
Different strokes: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro slugged his sixth homer in the fifth. He pushed his batting average over .300, but he has walked only six times this season.
"There's a lot of different ways to get it done offensively in the big leagues," Epstein said. "We're not asking all of our hitters to be cookie-cutter hitters and do it the same way, but as a whole build a team with a relentless attack … a team full of grinders who see pitches and make pitchers work hard and swing at hitters' pitches instead of pitchers' pitches … and aren't afraid to take their walks and look for pitches that they can drive and show some selective aggressiveness.
"That would be a great thing. It just makes life more difficult for opposing pitchers. And it also makes it easier over the course of a series if you can get into their bullpen."
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