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White Sox eliminated from playoff race after Tigers’ win over Royals

Chicago White Sox v ClevelIndians

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians

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Updated: November 3, 2012 6:18AM

CLEVELAND — On a night when the White Sox got their long-awaited shutdown start from a pitcher and rediscovered the lost art of hitting with runners in scoring position — with two outs, no less — it just didn’t matter.

The Detroit Tigers popped American League Central championship corks in Kansas City after defeating the Royals to clinch a title the Sox had designs on when they led Detroit by three games 15 days ago.

The Sox’ 11-0 victory against the Indians before an announced crowd of 14,756 was their third triumph in the last 13 games. Rookie left-hander Hector Santiago (4-1) gave them something to feel encouraged about for next season, allowing one hit and striking out 10 in seven innings, but that did little to wipe away the pain of finishing second.

“We did it to ourselves,’’ Sox pitcher Jake Peavy said. “We weren’t good enough the last few weeks; it’s as simple as that. It’s a shame you play the way we did for the majority of the season and have it come down to where you don’t play well late.’’

The Sox needed a sweep against the Indians in their three-game series and a sweep from the Royals against the Tigers. As Sox hitters peppered Indians pitchers with 15 hits — all singles except for Dayan Viciedo’s grand slam in the ninth — they watched helplessly as the Tigers took care of business.

“You’re disappointed because you were in a position to get in,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “I’m proud of what they have done, the way they conducted themselves coming in ready to play. Would you have rather it turned out different? Of course. I’m not disappointed in them at all.

“You end up where you’re supposed to end up.’’

For Peavy, finishing second is a “huge disappointment for me. This is 11 years for me, and some of the young guys might not have as much disappointment because I don’t think they quite understand how hard it is to get in this position. You got guys like Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, these guys have never had the chance to play [in the postseason]. They’ll tell you how hard it is to be on a team that makes the playoffs. We feel like we let one slip away.’’

As consolations go, Santiago’s 10 strikeouts were the most by a Sox rookie since Jason Bere fanned 12 Angels in 1993. The only hit he allowed was a single by Shin–Soo Choo in the third.

“I threw five pitches from the first inning on,’’ Santiago said. “It was one of those days where everything was working.’’

Sunk by a lineup that had scored three runs or fewer in 10 of the last 13 games and hit .181 with runners in scoring position over its last 24 games, the Sox erupted against Corey Kluber (2-5) and Joe Smith with four two-out RBI singles in the sixth inning.

Dunn, Rios (a line shot off the left-field wall), A.J. Pierzynski and Viciedo got it done. Dunn broke an 0-for-18 slump, and Pierzynski tied a career high with his 77th RBI. The Sox were 8-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

“Disappointing end to a good season,’’ Peavy said. “Extremely frustrating how things have played out, but the experience that the young kids have gained, there’s definitely some bright spots, and the organization is definitely headed in the right direction.’’

“It’s always frustrating,’’ Pierzynski said, ‘‘but I told everyone we should walk out of here with our heads held high at the end of the season because nobody thought we would do anything this year and be in it till Oct. 1.

“There’s nothing we can look back and say if we would have done this, if we would have done that because we gave everything we could, did everything we could possibly do and were in the position we wanted to be in. It just didn’t work out.’’

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