White Sox, Manny Ramirez, Can Win AL Central With Hot Streak

White Sox, Manny Ramirez, Can Win AL Central With Hot Streak The Rangers, Yankees and Rays all maintain playoff-spot cushions of over six games with under thirty to go, but one race does remain relatively tight.

The Chicago White Sox are just four games out in the AL Central, and with Manny Ramirez in the lineup and the Twins battling injury issues, the ChiSox may have enough to close the gap.

The Twins have been hot, and have dominated the South-Siders all season, but Chicago is coming off a sweep of the Indians, and have a 16-game stretch against their division rivals — including three at home against Minnesota — upcoming.

First, they have a weekend series in Boston on their plate — one that will include another Manny homecoming.

NESN asked SoxMachine.com blogger Jim Margalus a few questions about the South-Siders heading into the series.

NESN.com: Will the White Sox be able to catch Minnesota in the AL Central?

Jim Margalus: I don't think so. The Sox aren't generally strong finishers, so it'll require them to play better in the final month than they have in a while. They do have three left against the Twins, but they're 5-10 against Minnesota this year, and they play and act like the Twins are in their heads. So, I'm not optimistic. Then again, the Twins have injury and pitching issues themselves, and they're due to cool off.  The AL Central has needed a 163rd game to settle the division the last two years. This one might make three.

NESN: What do you expect out of Manny Ramirez this season? Beyond that?

JM: I expect him to either hit well or get injured again.  Hopefully staying at DH will keep him in the lineup.  Beyond that, Scott Boras is his agent, and Kenny Williams generally doesn't bother trying to re-sign his clients, so I'm expecting this to be pure mercenary action at work.

NESN: Will Jake Peavy ever be the same pitcher that he was in San Diego? Did San Diego’s division and park make Peavy?

JM: I'm sure the park helped, but before he got hurt, he was showing his ace form. I don't think he's a Cy Young pitcher away from Petco, but he's still very, very good. I have no idea what to expect from Peavy going forward, because there aren't many players who have suffered the same injury. His lat basically tore clean off the bone. The White Sox have one of the league's best medical staffs, so if anybody can get him back in action, it's Herm Schneider and Co.

NESN: Why has Edwin Jackson been so good since coming to the White Sox? Can he keep it up?

JM: Pitching coach Don Cooper said he saw that Jackson was tipping his pitches, and that his back leg was collapsing during his windup, which prevented him from standing tall and using a better downward plane. That all could be true. Also, Jackson throws 98 in the ninth inning, and that doesn't hurt. But he's also benefited from a very easy schedule. Provided he pitches once every five games from here on out, he'll only face one above-average offense in his 11 starts.

NESN: Is Omar Vizquel a Hall of Famer?

JM: I think he falls a little short. People who know more about studying defense say he's not of Ozzie Smith's caliber with his glove, and not as valuable with the bat either. But watching him play this season, the way he stays in shape and goes about his business, he's very impressive. If he happened to be inducted, maybe he would lower the standards a little bit, but hard work will have been rewarded.

Thanks again to Jim Margalus of SoxMachine.com

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