CHICAGO -- Picture this scenario playing out at the end of the 2020 season for manager Rick Renteria’s White Sox.
The White Sox and Cubs are fighting for postseason spots in their respective Central divisions, and they end up battling each other with the playoffs on the line. That intracity scenario could happen based on Monday’s announcement of the White Sox 60-game 2020 schedule, with the Cubs visiting Guaranteed Rate Field for the final three games of the season from Sept. 25-27.
The teams meet three times at Wrigley Field, from Aug. 21-23, with the White Sox holding a 62-60 all-time series edge but having gone 5-9 over the last three rebuilding years. It’s a matchup with extra excitement for White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease, who was traded with Eloy Jiménez from the Cubs in the 2017 Jose Quintana deal.
Jiménez hit a game-winning home run off of Pedro Strop in the ninth inning at Wrigley Field on June 18 last season.
"That would be cool," said Cease, who has faced the Cubs twice in the Minors since the trade. "With them also being a talented team and a team that's going to be competing, that will be a lot of fun."
Two-thirds of the White Sox schedule will come against the American League Central, with the South Siders opening this ledger shortened by the coronavirus pandemic at home against the Twins on July 24 at 7:10 p.m. CT. It marks the latest season opener in White Sox franchise history.
Opening Day is part of a three-game series against the defending division champions. The White Sox will start the season against Minnesota for the first time since 2014, an AL Central opponent for the 16th time in the past 18 seasons and at home for the fifth time since '10.
Fifteen of the White Sox first 19 games and nine straight to begin 2020 come within the division, with a six-game road trip to Cleveland and Kansas City following the home-opening series against the Twins. Despite the familiarity of division opponents, Renteria stressed simply playing good baseball as the key.
"John Wooden used to say, 'The most important thing is to know your own team,'" Renteria said. "You can know your opponent and have an idea of what they want to do with you and things of that nature; you just have to know your own club.
"But you have to win, obviously. It goes without saying. You have to win within your division."
On Aug. 13, the White Sox will host the St. Louis Cardinals in MLB’s Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa, at the site of the 1989 baseball movie “Field of Dreams.” The White Sox finish the season with four at home against Minnesota, three at the Reds, four at Cleveland and three at home against the Cubs, all teams who are projected playoff contenders.
Minnesota travels to Chicago for seven of its 10 games, and the White Sox have seven of their 10 on the road against Cleveland. The White Sox play exhibition games at the Cubs on July 19 at 7:05 p.m., at home against the Cubs on July 20 at 7:10 p.m. and at Milwaukee on July 22 at 7:10 p.m. They then have an off-day before beginning the 60-game season.
"We've got a 60-game schedule. I'm going to assume we've already played 102 games and we're in first place and we're trying to hold on to that slot," said Renteria of his approach. "But it is important for a club to get off to a good start because obviously the schedule is waning, it's short.
"I'm going to approach it that way and put us in a position where we are creative. Try to have a good eye on what everybody's doing and see if we can kind of maintain ourselves through the whole schedule. These guys are working really hard, they're focusing on what it is they're going to need to do in order to hopefully keep us in games early and let the offense do what it can while it continues to settle in."