White Sox need win over Cubs to have chance at division title

Field Level Media

September 27, 2020 at 7:28 am.

The Chicago Cubs clinched the National League Central on Saturday night despite losing to the Chicago White Sox, receiving some help when the St. Louis Cardinals lost about 300 miles away.

For the White Sox to join the Cubs as division champs when the regular season concludes Sunday, the White Sox will need to both help themselves and benefit from an outside boost — defeat the Cubs and hope the Minnesota Twins lose at home to the Cincinnati Reds. If that scenario transpires, the White Sox (35-24) will be American League Central champs by virtue of owning the tiebreaker on the Twins.

The Cubs (33-26) lost for the sixth time in seven games when the White Sox rallied for a 9-5 victory on Saturday to snap a season-high six-game losing streak. But St. Louis’ 3-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers still allowed the Cubs to wrap up their third division crown in five seasons.

Chicago is assured of the No. 3 seed in the NL playoffs and will host a best-of-three wild-card round series beginning Wednesday.

Manager David Ross lauded the team’s core — many of whom were his teammates on the Cubs’ 2016 World Series winner — for persevering through the oddities of the 2020 season en route to the NL Central title.

“I know it’s important to them to leave a legacy,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “They’re already leaving kind of a legacy that they should be really proud of, where they’ve taken this organization. I know they want to finish with a push and finish strong. It’s a group that’s going to be connected for the rest of their lives.”

Resurgent right-hander Reynaldo Lopez is set to start for Chicago. Lopez (1-2, 4.68 ERA) has compiled a 2.35 ERA in three starts since returning from the White Sox alternate training site in late August and scattered one run and three hits in five innings in a no-decision at Cleveland on Tuesday.

Lopez allowed two runs on one hit in 3 1/3 innings in an Aug. 22 no-decision against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in two career appearances against the Cubs with 12 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.

Rookie righty Adbert Alzolay (0-1, 3.31 ERA) will get the start for the Cubs. In his most recent outing Tuesday at Pittsburgh, Alzolay pitched four innings of one-run, two-hit ball with two walks and seven strikeouts as the back end of a piggyback tandem with Jose Quintana. Alzolay has not faced the White Sox nor made an interleague appearance in his career.

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant returned to the lineup for the first time in four games Saturday after recovering from right oblique tightness. Bryant went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Although he didn’t play for the second successive game and is unlikely to be in the lineup Sunday, White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez is “progressing positively” toward a return for the playoffs, manager Rick Renteria said. Jimenez suffered a mid-foot sprain while sliding across home plate in Thursday’s loss at Cleveland.