June 18 • 09:58 AM
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Indians 'roll' to yet another win
CHICAGO -- This can't be happening. Can it?
submitted by Travis
September 20, 2005 | 04:51 PM

A 15-game lead, melting like the polar ice caps?

A magical season, turning messier than a mudslide?

This can't be happening. But it is. It's happening to those Chicago White Sox. Right before our eyes.

Seven weeks ago, the White Sox were 34 games over .500 -- and the Cleveland Indians were four over. Four.

So everybody who figured they'd be waking up on the morning of Sept. 20, finding those same two teams suddenly separated by 21/2 games, raise your hands. We'd like to come hang out with you on your next trip to the Powerball machine.

But that's where these White Sox and these Indians stand right now -- 21/2 games apart. With nearly two weeks of this season left to be played. With five more games left against each other. Amazing.

That gap shrunk by yet another game Monday night, from 31/2 down to 21/2, on a pulsating pennant-race evening on the South Side of Chicago, when these two teams finally met for the first time since July.

It shrunk on the second-biggest hit in the life of the legendary Aaron Bleeping Boone -- a two-run, eighth-inning, game-winning single off a man throwing 99 miles an hour (White Sox smokeballer Bobby Jenks).

It shrunk when a spectacular, roller coaster of a game ended Indians 7, White Sox 5.

But most of all, it shrunk in a way that made you wonder: Could it possibly shrink any more?

"You know what?" Boone would say later. "I know no one believes me. But we don't really care. We just want to keep playing the way we've been playing."

OK, we know he really, truly means that -- but let's rephrase that remark for him:

The Indians, as a point of philosophy, don't particularly want to care about those standings. But they're at a point now where they're not allowed to forget them -- because those of us who do care are rude enough to bring them up every 12 seconds.

es on Aug. 1.

Whether the Indians want to know this or not, they are now within reach of doing something not just historic but borderline impossible. Wiping out a 15-game lead with two months to play? What are the odds of that?

Well, we'll frame it for you in a way that will make those odds realllll clear:

• Only one team in the history of baseball -- the 1914 "Miracle" Braves -- was ever 15 games out at any point of any season and came back to finish first. But that team fell 15 back in the first week of July, not the first week of August.

• The biggest Aug. 1 lead any team in history has ever blown, on the other hand, is 11 games -- by the 1995 Angels. But these Indians already have made up more games than that in just a month and a half.

• The White Sox, meanwhile, started out their season by going 62-29 in their first 91 games. Only two teams in history ever roared out to a start that good, were in undisputed possession of first place after those 91 games and didn't finish first -- the 1978 Red Sox (up 81/2) and the 1942 Dodgers (up 61/2).

• But no team that started 62-29 or better ever finished its season by playing sub-.500 baseball for the rest of the season. The White Sox, we regret to report, are 28-30 since then.

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Born June 18th
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1815: At the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon is defeated by an international army under the Duke of Wellington.
1863: After repeated acts of insubordination, General Ulysses S. Grant relieves General John McClernand during the siege of Vicksburg.
1864: At Petersburg, Union General Ulysses S. Grant realizes the town can no longer be taken by assault and settles into a siege.
1873: Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for attempting to vote for president.
1918: Allied forces on the Western Front begin their largest counter-attack yet against the German army.