With the disastrous All-Star Game behind us now, the Chicago White Sox look to get the second half of the season started in style. At least the Sox had a bright spot during the Midsummer Classic, with Chris Sale pitching one scoreless inning. Now it’s time to start looking towards much bigger and important things.
The Pale Hose are three games up on the Cleveland Indians and three and a half games ahead of the Detroit Tigers going into Friday. However, the rest of this month is a doozy; only three games, that’s right count them on one hand – only three games at home for the rest of July.
The first series features a matchup against the Kansas City Royals, but the rest of the month includes series with the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and other American League Central foes like the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers. The only respite the Sox get is when the Twins come to Chicago for a three game homestand from the July 23 to 25.
One would think something is off about this schedule, right? Even by tough MLB standards, this stretch of 16 road games in 20 days (counting a game in Minnesota on Aug. 1) seems ludicrous. Despite this, the Sox plan on remaining strong in the face of a challenge. Now all these rookies and “comeback” players like Adam Dunn and Alex Rios can show they can produce when the pressure is on, and people are actually stating to EXPECT them to win a majority of series from here on out.
It’s hard to pinpoint where the Sox toughest opponent will come in. Personally, I’m always weary about Minnesota. The Sox face them six times during this 20-day stretch, and even though they are in the cellar with a 36-49 record, isn’t this always just about the time the Twins start playing good baseball out of nowhere before they quickly fade out in September? Nothing can ever be a given with them and on top of that, the AL Central worries continue with a series against the Tigers in Detroit.
Now, I don’t mean to sound as if there is no hope for the Sox, but one has to wonder if the team will be riding this high all year long. They have the capabilities to make it happen. More importantly, they have the pitching to make it happen.
If John Danks is able to come back fully healthy this month, the Sox will again have the rotation that was supposed to be a major strength heading out of Spring Training. Philip Humber gave up only two hits in six innings, including retiring the last 16 batters in a rehab start Thursday night. He is set to return next week in Boston, which will send Dylan Axelrod to the bullpen.
Jose Quintana kicks things off Friday, and with any luck the break hasn’t cooled him down at all. A lot of interesting things are going to start happening now. Will Kenny Williams make more deals? Will the team stay in first place? If, they’re going to, they have to play like a team and win these games on the road however they can.
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