CHICAGO - Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen hopes his players get oxygen before they open their American League Division Series today against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. But there's one thing he wants to keep: momentum.
"Right now," Guillen said. "We're hot."
The White Sox, having squandered an AL Central lead the past two weeks, staved off elimination for the third straight day, winning a 1-0 one-game tiebreaker with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night to clinch the division.
The veteran-laden club had a more subdued celebration. Whether it was a been-there-before mentality or fatigue after a roller-coaster weekend, the White Sox took a businesslike approach. Although they expect a tough series from the Rays, as designated hitter Jim Thome said, "we like our chances."
"I'd rather face them than Boston right now," said left-hander Mark Buehrle, whose White Sox lost six of 10 games to Tampa Bay this season. "They kind of remind me of this team: They go out there, get on base, they steal, they hit and run. They do everything they're supposed to do."
Left-hander John Danks' eight scoreless innings symbolized Chicago's grit and desperation. Danks, the fourth straight starter to pitch on three days' rest, allowed two hits. Guillen said right-hander Javier Vazquez will start Game 1 against the Rays.
While the Rays have rested, the White Sox have played do-or-die baseball for the past week. Tuesday had a postseason, Game 7 feel.
The biggest out came in the fifth, when center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. threw out Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer trying to score on a sacrifice fly. His one-hop throw barely beat Cuddyer.
Notes:: White Sox All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin won't play in the series because he's still recovering from his broken right wrist. ... Because of Tampa Bay's predominantly left-handed-hitting lineup, Guillen will start Danks in Game 3, pushing right-hander Gavin Floyd (Mount St. Joseph) to a possible Game 4.
Sun news services contributed to this article.