(The road to the playoffs out of Chicago?)

Monday: White Sox 8 Boston 12

For the second time in as many Augusts, the spectacle of RHP Jose Contreras visiting the first base area has failed to inspire.  Last season, it was a race to the bag (helped not a bit by the feckless, motionless Nick Swisher at 1B) that caused Contreras’ achilles to snap, ending his season and keeping the Twins very much in contention into the post-season.

Monday, Contreras’s chug down the line landed him not on a stretcher, but the bullpen.  After loading the bases in the 3rd by beaning Youklis with 2 outs, Contreras got Big Papi to issue a weak grounder down the line.  Normally cause for celebration, Jose instead bobbled it, allowing Alex Gonzales to score, kicking off a 6 unearned run inning.  Chisox blown opportunities to answer were marked by Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios popups.  By evening’s end, Contreras would be demoted to the pen and the White Sox would lead the AL in unearned runs with 63.  The Tigers victory in Anaheim put the Pale Hose 3.5 games back, making Tuesday’s tilt if not a must-win, something close to it.

Tuesday: White Sox 3 Red Sox 6

Yesterday came the hammer blow.  More blown scoring opportunities laced Sweaty Freddy Garcia’s decent 6 1/3 inning effort before it was handed to the resolutely terrible Scott Linebrink (7.73 since ASB), causing anguished foreheads to meet beer-moistened bar tops from Greektown to Joliet.  Ass long as he’s durr, I how to bring him out, explained Ozzie after it was too late.  Linebrink gave up a Jason Bay monster-clearing bomb and RBI hits to Ellsbury and Martinez to put the game and probably the division out of reach for good.

The division because Detroit’s mediocrity took a Southern California holiday in their Jarrod Washburn-led 5-3 win, putting the Pale Hose back 4.5 games and making Sox fans wonder why Detroit’s west coast import arm wasn’t languishing in AAA like ours was.  Did Jake Peavy answer this question by stopping a line drive with his throwing elbow in his third rehab start in Charlotte?  Will we have all winter to think about Clayton Richard, for whom the troubled Cy Young winner was traded – and his record of 4-0 since that deal?