CHICAGO – Thanks to Jim Thome's bat and Ken Griffey Jr.'s arm, the AL Central has a winner at last: the Chicago White Sox.
John Danks pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, Thome homered and Griffey threw out a runner at the plate with a tough tag by A.J. Pierzynski, helping Chicago beat the Minnesota Twins 1-0 in a 163rd-game tiebreaker for the division title Tuesday night.
The White Sox joined the Cubs in the postseason, the first time since 1906 that both Chicago teams are in.
Next up for the South Siders, a first-round matchup with the surprising Rays. Game 1 is Thursday at Tampa Bay.
The White Sox got a huge boost Tuesday from two of their oldest players: Thome and Griffey, both longing for their first World Series championship.
Thome's long drive on a 2-2 pitch from rookie Nick Blackburn cleared two rows of shrubs in center field, traveling an estimated 461 feet to snap a scoreless tie in the seventh. It was the 541st homer for Thome, who raised his right fist as he rounded first base. He hadn't been to the playoffs since 2001.
Griffey, who came to the White Sox in a trade with the Reds so he could have a chance at playing in the postseason, cut down Michael Cuddyer with a nice throw in the fifth. Griffey, who like Thome, is 38, will be making is first postseason appearance since 1997 with Seattle.
Bobby Jenks worked a perfect ninth for his 30th save in 34 chances. Center fielder Brian Anderson ended with a diving catch of Alexi Casilla's blooper.