White Sox force playoff
They host Twins tonight to settle AL Central title
CHICAGO - Alexei Ramirez spread his arms wide, raced around the bases like a little kid, and jumped into Paul Konerko's embrace at home plate.
No wonder they were so happy. The White Sox would play one more day.
Ramirez set a rookie record with his fourth grand slam of the season, and Chicago beat Detroit, 8-2, in a rainout makeup yesterday, forcing a one-game tiebreaker against Minnesota for the AL Central title.
The Twins will visit the White Sox tonight, with John Danks starting for Chicago on three days' rest against Nick Blackburn. The winner advances to the AL Division Series against Tampa Bay, with Game 1 Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"Tomorrow, 162 games mean nothing. It's only about one game and that's great," said manager Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox went 7-2 at home against the Twins this season.
When Guillen told Ramirez to relax before batting with the bases loaded, the 27-year-old infielder made a promise.
"I told Ozzie to have confidence in me. I'm going to go out and get these runners home somehow," he said.
Did he ever. Then again, his days on the Cuban national team taught him about big games.
"My team in Cuba was always in the playoffs and I played in the Olympics and international games. I've been in tougher situations, I feel," he said through a translator.
Washed out earlier this month, Chicago and Detroit waited through a rain delay of more than three hours before starting. Gavin Floyd (17-8) won on three days' rest, giving up five hits and one earned run in six innings. He struck out eight and walked two while throwing 118 pitches.
"He admitted he was nervous, which was good because if you're not nervous in that situation, there's something wrong with you," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He didn't have his best stuff but he battled and made pitches when he had to to get through it."
The loss left the Tigers in last place, capping a season they began with hopes of reaching the World Series.
"It's been a tough year," manager Jim Leyland said. "Today pretty much sums up what's gone on all year, really. It hasn't been a very good year and it wasn't a very happy ending."
Detroit took a 2-1 lead into the sixth. But former White Sox ace Freddy Garcia, who'd allowed only two hits to that point, had to leave with tightness in his right shoulder with a runner on second and no outs.
When Garcia left, things got wild.
Leyland summoned Armando Galarraga (13-7) - the team's best starter this season - and he threw two wild pitches that allowed the tying run to score.
After Jermaine Dye walked, Bobby Seay relieved and threw Detroit's third wild pitch of the inning.
Jim Thome struck out, but after an intentional walk to Konerko, Seay also walked Ken Griffey Jr. to load the bases.
Ramirez sent the first pitch from Gary Glover, another former White Sox pitcher, into the left-center-field bleachers, setting off a happy trip around the bases for the rookie whose nickname is "The Cuban Missile."
Ramirez's slam broke a tie with Shane Spencer (1998 Yankees) for the most by a rookie. It was also the White Sox' 12th of the season, setting a club mark.
Pierzynski added an RBI double during a two-run eighth.
Floyd's error helped Detroit take a 2-1 lead in the sixth. Miguel Cabrera doubled with one out before Marcus Thames hit a hard liner that White Sox third baseman Juan Uribe snagged for the second out.
When Ryan Raburn hit a slow roller between the plate and mound, Floyd bobbled the ball while reaching down to pick it up and threw high past Konerko at first, allowing Cabrera to score.
Chicago scored in the first but had a much bigger inning brewing when the first three batters reached against Garcia. He walked Orlando Cabrera and DeWayne Wise before Dye hit an RBI single, but retired the next three batters.
Detroit tied it in the fifth as Raburn singled, stole second, and scored when Brandon Inge doubled to left over the leaping Wise.
After his early struggles, Garcia rebounded, retiring 11 straight before Griffey singled with two outs in the fourth.
Garcia was 40-21 with Chicago from 2004-06 and won three games in the postseason of 2005, including the clinching Game 4 of the World Series. He is close friends with Guillen and they texted each other leading up to the game.
Guillen warned that the White Sox had better "be ready for Freddy."
Garcia, who was traded to the Phillies after the 2006 season for Floyd and Gio Gonzalez, was making his third start for Detroit after signing a minor league contract Aug. 14.