CHICAGO -- According to the philosophy espoused by White Sox general manager Ken Williams, three common denominators exist for teams that make the playoffs: Will, intellect and talent.
"And not necessarily in that order," said Williams, during an extended chat with the media prior to Tuesday's contest with the Twins.
There are some games in which a team has to will its way to victory and others where it has to use collective intellect. During Detroit's three-game weekend sweep at Comerica Park, the White Sox might not have played as smart as they possibly could have by Williams' estimation.
"One of the conversations we had on the bus and the plane was, 'OK, let's review what happened. Did we play the smartest baseball? Did we take advantage of the other team's weaknesses and did we have the right game plan?'" said Williams of the post-Tigers discussion. "Well, it wasn't a matter of talent that lost us those three games. We think we didn't step up in that category.
"You run into a couple of buzz saws like they have the potential to do in their starting rotation [Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander] and it is what it is. But for the most part, those three things I just talked about will carry the day in September. Not just for us, for everybody."
Williams wouldn't talk specifically about what was missing from the "smart" part of the White Sox plan against the Tigers, but it can be safely assumed that his team will be bunting more on third baseman Miguel Cabrera during next week's four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field. Players such as Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn won't be expected to lay one down on the hobbled American League Most Valuable Player candidate, but speed players more adept in that skill figure to test Cabrera's bad ankle.
"Those are things we want to keep as proprietary information since we have four more games with them," said Williams, before pausing and then continuing. "I'll tell you after, if we don't make it obvious."
During this last series between the two division front-runners, Gordon Beckham's sacrifice attempt in the fourth inning of Friday's contest that was misplayed by Cabrera stood as the only White Sox bunt attempt.
Williams proud of team's preparation
CHICAGO -- Even if the White Sox come up short in their push for the 2012 American League Central title, general manager Ken Williams has nothing but pride in regard to his team's approach.
"What makes me feel the best is no matter what happens this month, I know that everybody in uniform has given us his very best, given it their all in preparation, the study of their opponent in the video room and scouting reports," Williams said. "They talk about ideas, they come out early en masse to work on little fundamental things you take for granted in this game or are considered old-school.
"So at the end of the day, if we don't achieve the goal we set out to achieve, I can't think of a better group I'd love to go down with than these guys. And I mean that as much as anything I've said all year long. We don't want to do that. We want to be the last club standing but in the event that we're not, I will walk in and thank everyone in uniform for their efforts."
Kevin Youkilis, who contributed to a pair of World Series titles with Boston, stressed series victories once again as being crucial for this special group to reach the playoffs.
"We still have to keep fighting. We need to try to make it where we're not having a rough batch here on out," Youkilis said. "We got to have as many series as possible going forward. If we do, we'll make it to the playoffs."
Mustaches to stay as long as wins continue
CHICAGO -- Kevin Youkilis came up with the mustache idea for the White Sox about one month ago but nobody got to it. Finally, he just did it after Sunday's loss to the Tigers and everyone jumped on board.
After a Monday victory with the new-look mustaches, which also parlayed into a tribute to Kevin Hickey on a day in which the late pregame instructor was honored, the facial hair might be here to stay.
"Well, if something works, you're not going to be against it," Youkilis said. "I guess it's technically a superstition. It got us a win last night, so hopefully it'll get us a bunch more wins. Twenty-eight more games left, hopefully we win them."
When asked if his wife and kids approved of the mustache-only choice, White Sox captain Paul Konerko laughed and said not really.
"No one's really OK with that outside of the clubhouse," Konerko said.
But the mustaches have served as another bonding mechanism for this tight-knit group, much like the Loudmouth golf clothing worn on the trip to Baltimore.
"There's a number of things you can do to bring a little levity, even when people think you shouldn't be doing it, should be more serious," White Sox general manager Ken William said. "But this is exactly when you should be. They have a lot of that.
"Orlando Hudson was missed while he was gone, Paul Konerko when he was gone. Not just on the field, but in the dugout, on the planes, in the buses."
Axelrod, Santiago options to start Sunday
CHICAGO -- Similar answers came from Dylan Axelrod and Hector Santiago when asked about their chance to start Sunday afternoon against the Royals, a spot that is still listed as TBA.
"They haven't decided, and I'm a possibility," said Axelrod, who was recalled from Double-A Birmingham prior to Tuesday's contest. "We'll see. They need to talk and see how it goes."
"Nobody knows," Santiago said. "They said, 'Get ready, and if it happens, it happens.' But we aren't thinking that far ahead. We are focused on this game against the Twins."
Santiago earned the victory Monday by allowing one run over five-plus innings in his first Major League start. Axelrod picked up the White Sox lone victory on their recently completed seven game road trip, yielding one run on three hits over 7 1/3 innings against Baltimore on Wednesday, and pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief of Jose Quintana during Tuesday's 18-9 loss.
That previous starting experience helps put these rookies at ease when pitching in playoff-type situations.
"I'm just excited more than anything. This is going to be a lot of fun down the stretch," Axelrod said. "I just hope I can contribute as much as I can. If it's out of the 'pen, that's fine. If it's a spot start here or there, that's fine, too."
Third to first
Iconic White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson celebrated his 71st birthday on Tuesday. He left early from Tuesday's telecast feeling under the weather.
The White Sox are 26-26 against the American League Central but have lost nine of their last 10 games in the division.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura won't push his starting pitchers to pick up an extra out or two at this crucial point of the season, not with a 12-man bullpen giving him the chance to play matchups early and often.
"At the end of the year, everybody's tired," Ventura said. "Where we're at with the guys we have, you have to play the game the way you see it. If they look like they're ready to come out, you take them out." The White Sox became the first team to hit 10 doubles in a game during Tuesday's 18-9 loss since Toronto on Aug. 17, 2008, against Boston.