Instead, the Sox surprised them with back-to-back victories and a rare series win in Cleveland. The Indians' magic number remains at 1 heading into Monday's action.
Here's a look back at the weekend in Cleveland:
Friday, September 23
Indians 10, White Sox 4: The Sox were in decent shape halfway through this game. They had a 4-2 lead headed to the bottom of the fifth inning, after a pair of two-run homers -- one by Melky Cabrera in the first inning and the other by Avisail Garcia in the fifth.
But the wheels came off for Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez (4-8) in the bottom of the fifth. The Tribe touched Gonzalez and reliever Juan Minaya up for four runs to take a 6-4 lead, and for good measure, they added four more in the sixth off the relief combination of Minaya and Dan Jennings.
Blessed with a 10-4 lead, Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer (12-8) got two outs deep in the eighth inning and picked up the win.
The Sox lost outfielder Adam Eaton for the rest of the series after he crashed into the center field wall hauling in a line drive off the bat of Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez in the fifth inning.
Saturday, September 24
White Sox 8, Indians 1: The Sox have scored a few more runs for Jose Quintana (13-11) the second half of the season, and this was the lastest example. A two-spot in the first inning gave Quintana the lead before he ever took the mound, and that had to be comforting for him, because he did not have his best stuff.
The left-hander worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, and kept the Indians to just one run in the second inning, when the Tribe left runners at second and third.
The Sox added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings -- Todd Frazier hit his 39th homer of the season in the sixth -- and then broke it open with a four-run hit parade in the eighth inning. Carlos Sanchez and Jose Abreu each had three-hit games to back Quintana, who nursed the lead through six innings.
Tommy Kahnle, Jennings, Nate Jones and David Robertson combined for three innings of scoreless relief to give the Sox just their second victory at Cleveland this season.
Sunday, September 25
White Sox 3, Indians 0: Cleveland entered the day with its magic number at 2, needing a win and a Detroit loss to clinch the division. The Tigers lost, 12-9, to Kansas City, but the Indians couldn't hold up their end of the deal.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon (8-10) turned in one of the finest performances by a Sox starting pitcher all season. He went eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits (both singles), and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts.
Frazier went 1 for 3 with a single, a walk, two stolen bases and two runs scored. Each of the two steals led directly to a run. Sanchez drove him home with a single in the fifth; Omar Narvaez knocked him in with a single in the ninth.
Those three runs were ample for Rodon, who needed just one inning of help from the bullpen. Robertson provided it with one of his most impressive performances in months. The closer earned his 36th save by striking out Cleveland's 3-4-5 hitters -- Jose Ramirez, Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana -- in succession, all on nasty curve balls.
The Sox (74-81) now come home to conclude the season. They've got four games with Tampa Bay and three with Minnesota at U.S. Cellular Field this week.