Just another game off the schedule.
That's all the White Sox achieved Saturday night in their quest to win the American League Central, as a listless performance cost them a chance to move closer to the division title in a 5-2 loss to Kansas City.
"It's just another missed opportunity," right fielder Jermaine Dye said in a very quiet clubhouse.
Minnesota's loss at Tampa Bay trimmed the Sox's magic number for clinching the division to 6, but the Sox missed improving their odds of clinching in Minnesota next week as they were limited to three hits in seven-plus innings by Kyle Davies.
"We were ready to fight," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We just left the gloves at the hotel. [Davies] threw very well. We couldn't get anything going to the end. When we started to get something going, it was too late."
The loss capped the end of a three-game stretch in which Javier Vazquez, Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd (16-8) worked consecutive games on three days' rest. They will revert to their normal four days before facing the Twins.
If the Sox don't wrap up the Central by Friday, they could encounter a scenario in which they might have to consider bringing back Vazquez, Buehrle or both on short rest again.
In other words, the Sox need a strong effort Sunday from left-hander John Danks on six days' rest to quell any major concerns about the rotation and at least maintain their 21/2-game lead heading into their showdown in Minnesota.
"I want to get a run going," Guillen said. "It's not going to be easy. The more games we win, the better off we are to make it a little easier. [Sunday] is a big game for us. No doubt about it. It's a huge game for us, and we have to prepare better and be more aggressive at the plate than we were [Saturday night]."
The Sox were fully aware the Twins were in the midst of losing before they took the field Saturday night but insisted they weren't too relaxed.
"You know the situation," Dye said. "We have eight games left. You know where you are."
Despite the lack of production, the Sox came within a few feet of tying the game in the ninth off closer Joakim Soria. Dye, who hasn't hit a home run since Aug. 27, launched a deep drive with runners at first and second that Mark Teahen caught at the left-field wall.
"I thought I got it good enough to go out," Dye said. "But this is a pretty big park now, and I came up a few feet short."
Soria struck out Jim Thome to end the game. The at-bat was Thome's 1,100th plate appearance over a two-year span, thus triggering his $13 million option for 2009.
Alexei Ramirez accounted for the Sox's offense with a two-run homer in the eighth and became the seventh Sox rookie to hit at least 20 home runs in a season.