After a good initial start to the season that included a six-game win streak, the White Sox looked as though this year might turn sideways in the last week. After Monday’s 5-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, the White Sox had lost five of their previous six, falling to 8-9 and third place in their division. The loss prompted pitcher Dallas Keuchel to unleash the following words of criticism:
“When you have enough talent to potentially win every game, it’s very frustrating when you have games like this, and it just seemed like we were out of it from the get-go,” Keuchel said after the loss. “It just seemed like we were taking the night off. We can’t afford that with a young core like we have here. We have to show up every day, and even if there’s no fans we have to make sure we’re ready to go. And if we’re not ready to go, we’ve got to fake it till we make it. Wednesday was one of the first games I’ve seen very subpar play from everybody.”
Maybe it was that tough love from a frustrated Cy-Young-and-World-Series-winning-pitcher that the White Sox needed. They responded to close out the series with wins in their next two games, looking like the young, power-possessing team they are.
“Somebody had to say it,” Tim Anderson said before Tuesday night’s game. “Like he said, it is a lot of talent in the locker room. But hopefully, it will light a match under some guys and now get them going. I don’t see anything wrong with what he said.”
Most notable about the Sox’ skid was the disappearance of their bats; in six games from August 5 through August 10, they scored 11 runs, while giving up 26. Luis Robert batted .150 in those six games and Yoán Moncada struck out nine times in 26 plate appearances. Eloy Jiménez went ice cold, getting only one hit in 23 at-bats and making an error that allowed an inside-the-park home run and sent him viral for all the wrong reasons. The injuries to Reynaldo López and Carlos Rodón forced them to ad-lib their rotation, using Gio Gonzalez and an opener strategy to no avail on Saturday and Sunday. In total, since August 5, the White Sox lost two games to Milwaukee, dropped two out of three to Cleveland and started off their Detroit series with a loss
So it was imperative the White Sox pick up the slack and close out the Tigers with two wins. And although Detroit is surprisingly in second place with a 9-7, they’re still a team to get wins from, and a quick surge in run-production, seven Wednesday and eight on Tuesday, certainly helped.
Jiménez seems to be back on the right track, hitting a home run in each game and collecting seven total RBIs. Luis Robert went back to his spark-plug from Wednesday by hitting a bases-clearing double in the fifth to put the White Sox ahead 7-5 in the fifth inning, which would ultimately be the final score. Just when he was down, he came roaring back in a big way. And Wednesday was all started off by Tim Anderson, whose return to the lineup saw him hit home run in the first inning end up a double short of the cycle. Jiménez’s follow-up shot in that first inning is what the White Sox dream of when they close their eyes and imagine this complete picture. And while Moncada has continued to slump, their young bats more than made up for it in keeping the White Sox from slipping any further.
Dylan Cease exited Wednesday’s game after six innings with a bizarre stat line—two home runs allowed, seven hits, five runs but only one earned—but he struck out five batters and has gotten his ERA down to 3.26. The White Sox’ rotation, when healthy, looks better with Lucas Giolito, Keuchel and Cease if Cease can keep up his numbers. Though it was only last week we were singing the praises of the White Sox, it goes to show how much of a difference only a little amount of time. But in this shortened season, a little amount of time can mean a whole lot of ground.