Sept. 23 (UPI) — The Chicago White Sox earned a 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday at Progressive Field to clinch their first American League Central title in more than a decade.
It is the sixth division championship for the White Sox and the club’s first since 2008. Chicago is the first MLB team to clinch a division title this season, and the White Sox are set to make their first back-to-back postseason appearances in franchise history.
The White Sox made the playoffs as a wild-card team in 2020, but they lost to the Oakland Athletics in the first round.
“The whole thing for me is ‘Fantasy Island,'” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Coming back like this. We all know the truth. The first three jobs, the clubs were struggling when I took over. Managers don’t walk into a situation like this, with a team so ready to win. So I’m very, very fortunate.”
The 76-year-old La Russa managed the White Sox from 1979-86 before taking over the A’s (1986-95) and St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011). He won a combined three World Series titles in Oakland and St. Louis and gained entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
After a decade-long absence, La Russa came out of retirement in October 2020 for his second stint as manager of the White Sox.
“He came in and allowed us to be ourselves,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said of La Russa. “He always says players first. He allowed us to play the game the way we would want to and allowed us to have some fun.”
Wardrobe update for your A.L. Central Champs. pic.twitter.com/meWXfWIHd1— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 23, 2021
Anderson powered the White Sox to Thursday’s win against the Indians with two home runs. Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert also went deep, bashing back-to-back homers in the second inning.
The White Sox are likely to face the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series next month.