CHICAGO -If it weren’t for the event that happened 13 years ago on Thursday, the idea of a “Blackout” for the 2021 American League Playoffs wouldn’t have been on the White Sox minds.
But the atmosphere at the game on September 30, 2008 at then US Celluar Field created such an atmosphere that it’s one that fans still desire to see again over a decade later.
On that night, the White Sox hosted the Twins in the American League Central tiebreaker after playing clutch baseball over the previous two days. In the final game of the regular season against the Indians in Cleveland, the Ozzie Guillen’s team won a game they had to win 5-1 to force yet another “elimination” game that Monday at home.
A rained-out game against the Tigers earlier in September had to be made up, since Minnesota had a half-game lead on the White Sox. Alexei Ramirez’s Grand Slam sparked the home team to an 8-2 in over Detroit to force a tiebreaker at US Cellular Field the next night.
Facing a third “win-or-go-home” game in as many nights, the White Sox encouraged fans to wear black as a way to support the team. Fans embraced it after the game sold out within an hour following the win over the Tigers, as a sea of fans wearing black shirts or jackets greeted the team for the tiebreaker.
The contest itself was tight, with Jon Danks pitching eight shutout innings for the White Sox while allowing just two hits. Nick Blackburn was strong for the Twins as well, but he made a mistake to leadoff the seventh as Jim Thome took a pitch deep to center field for a solo homer to make it 1-0.
Danks would pitch the scoreless eighth with Bobby Jenks finishing off the save in the ninth, with Brian Anderson finishing it off with a diving catch in center off a short fly by Alexi Casilla.
After the play, the team rushed out of the dugout as the White Sox fans, clad in black, roared their approval for the team’s second AL Central title in four years.
In the American League Division Series, the White Sox kept the “Blackout” going for Games 3 and 4 at US Cellular Field against the Rays. It helped in the first of those contests as another strong performance by Danks helped the team to a win to prevent elimination, but Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay team would take care of the job the next day.
Yet the memories of the “blackout” live on thanks to the game 13 years ago on Thursday, and it’s a big reason why it’s back in 2021.