CHICAGO – When center fielder Brian Anderson made a diving catch to snare Alexi Casilla’s sinking line drive, the White Sox completed an exciting 1-0 victory over the Twins on Sept. 30, 2008, before 40,354 black-clad White Sox fans.
It was actually more than exciting. It might have been the greatest single contest in White Sox history, known as the Blackout Game. The White Sox also claimed the American League Central title in the Game 163 tiebreaker, moving into the 2008 playoffs against the Rays.
“That Blackout Game is one of my favorite all-time games just to be a part of,” said A.J. Pierzynski, who was the White Sox catcher in that victory. “The atmosphere was unbelievable.”
Minnesota had set up this matchup with a home sweep of the White Sox from Sept. 23-25 at the Metrodome. The Twins finished the season by losing two of three against the Royals at home, while the White Sox dropped two of three at home to the Indians. Manager Ozzie Guillen’s crew had to win a rainy Monday afternoon makeup game at home against the Tigers, highlighted by White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s sixth-inning grand slam off of Gary Glover, just to get to the Tuesday night tiebreaker.
Home field was awarded via a coin flip to the White Sox, despite the Twins having a 10-9 edge in the season series. It was Rick Hahn, the current White Sox general manager and then assistant general manager, who called heads, attributing the winning decision to his eldest son, Jake, who was 5 at the time. Head-to-head record would decide home-field advantage in future tiebreakers as a result of this contest.
White Sox southpaw John Danks and Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn engaged in a scoreless battle for six innings. Hall of Famer and White Sox center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. nailed Michael Cuddyer at the plate with a perfect throw to Pierzynski to end the fifth. Fellow Hall of Famer Jim Thome produced the only run of the night with a mammoth blast to center leading off the bottom of the seventh.
Blackburn yielded the one run over 6 1/3 innings, while Danks gave up a mere two hits over eight scoreless innings. It was Danks’ most dominant career start in the biggest moment.
“What I remember is every pitch, every strike, there was a reaction,” Danks said as part of MLB.com’s oral history from this game marking its 10th anniversary. “Every out, there was a reaction like it's the biggest play of the game. There were some big plays in that game, but even just the average groundout or the flyout would get a pretty good reaction.”
Added Thome: “To look back and have people still approach me to this day and say, ‘One of my favorite games is the White Sox with the Blackout Game. You hit the home run, Griffey throwing out Cuddyer, Danks' pitching performance. To me, there were so many guys that played integral parts of that game. Then, obviously, to get us into the playoffs was even more special.”