It turned out that the White Sox-Cubs season finale was better than expected, especially if you are a White Sox fan. The Sox return to reality tonight, when they open a four-game series against the Red Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. But there are plenty of leftovers from the 5-0 victory over the Cubs on Thursday at Wrigley Field.
With consecutive victories over the Twins and Cubs, the Sox put a positive ending on a dreadful 3-8 trip to Boston, New York, Minnesota and Wrigley Field. Does this mean they are back in the playoff hunt?
''We have to get to .500 before you can entertain thoughts of anything else,'' captain Paul Konerko said of the 66-69 Sox. ''We've dug a big hole for ourselves, and we don't have the right to talk about being in something when you are under .500. That should be our short-term goal, to get back to .500 and just keep grinding away.''
Anyone banking on the Sox still having a shot because they have six games left against the first-place Tigers, here's what manager Ozzie Guillen thinks.
''We are not going to sweep the Tigers,'' Guillen said. ''We're not.
''Hopefully, this thing turns around. But you know what? All year long I've got the same stuff. I get excited for three or four days and all of the sudden backwards.''
Jake Peavy hopes to have his most rigorous throwing session today at U.S. Cellular Field since elbow pain forced him to cut short his rehab start Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
Guillen has talked of shutting down Peavy if the Sox continue to fade from playoff contention. But the question remains: Is there a value to getting Peavy on a major-league mound before the offseason? Pitching coach Don Cooper believes that would be a huge step in easing everyone's concerns.
''I think it's more the peace of mind knowing, 'OK, I'm healthy and I'm back playing,' '' Cooper said. ''The frustration of him not being able to participate right now has been growing for him. He's antsy, he would like to play, but unfortunately, he got smoked with a line drive on his elbow. It left a huge bruise, fluid and stiffness. You have to play the cards you are being dealt. As much as you want to be out there, and as much as we would love to have you out there, I think the big question is a daily thing: Where are we at? What can we do? Before it's over, I believe he is going to be in ballgames. When that is? That's to be determined. And it is being determined by him, to a large degree on what and when he can do it.
''Before he leaves, the big question has got to be: Is Jake Peavy healthy? Whether it's through side work, throwing on the side, bullpens, getting in the game -- that would be the real tell-all -- before the offseason. We don't want to have any surprises going into spring training next year.''
The same question was posed to Peavy.
''I haven't thought about it. I'm just trying to get healthy and if I do, I do; if I don't, I don't,'' Peavy said. ''I would like to, but you have to be healthy and in good shape to go out there and pitch and I'll try to get out there.
''We were progressing. I felt I was real close in that Gwinnett game, then took a liner off the elbow that set things back. It seems like when it rains it pours. If it hasn't been one thing, it's been another. But I believe everything happens for a reason and it's a minor setback. I'm going to try to play some catch [Friday] and I messed around throwing some balls here today. I felt good and hopefully I'll get out there [Friday].''
A big test comes today.
''Hopefully we get him on the side,'' Cooper said. ''That way we can kind of pick up where we left off. My angle is the more and more days now that we don't get him on the mound, we're kind of erasing some of the growth and climb he made before. I believe all of the questions about Jake and his health will be answered before the season is over.''
By the numbers
Leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik went 3-for-4 with a walk for his 39th multi-hit game this season. A.J. Pierzynski leads the team with 40. It was Podsednik's third two-double game this season. ... The White Sox won the season series ( 4-2) for the first time since 2006. They have won the season series four times in the last 10 years. ... Forget the ''Fire Greg Walker'' talk. Four of the Sox' first five hits came with two outs and eight of their nine starters -- except starting pitcher Carlos Torres -- got at least one hit.
As for the photo, that's White Sox coach Kevin Hickey, who evidently is unaware a dugout prankster stuck a wad of bubble gum with a blown bubble on his cap during the game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. (AP Photo)