By Nick Labanca
In a crazy weekend where the Chicago White Sox weren’t just battling the Oakland Athletics, but also the Detroit Tigers on the scoreboard over right field, the Sox were able to pull out a series victory. And that is exactly what they need to focus on doing from here on out.
The Tigers were breathing down the Sox’ neck all weekend, with a couple of close games themselves leading a lot of fans, and most likely players as well, to watch the scoreboard a bit more than usual.
The White Sox offense was very effective against Oakland, collecting 18 runs and 29 hits over the three-game series. Once again, catcher A.J. Pierzynski was showing off as he continues to add on the big numbers to the best season of his career.
And the best part, even when he’s not starting, apparently backup catcher Tyler Flowers is capable of getting the job done as he went yard in a Sox loss on Saturday. The only thing that could’ve been a bit more consistent this series was the pitching, especially in the epic, four-hour-long contest that turned into a loss on Saturday night. However, Chris Sale redeemed the staff on Sunday afternoon when he recorded his 14th win, striking out 11 and only giving up two earned runs.
This weekend turned out to be an important one though, as the Sox gained some real ground over the Tigers. After Sunday, the Sox now sit two games up on Detroit, following their shellacking by the Texas Rangers earlier in the afternoon.
This pennant race is proving to be exciting as both teams are fairly hot right now. What it’s going to come down to is which team chokes first. And as we all know, the Sox do have some… experience… in that unfortunately.
There’s been more than a couple of seasons over the last decade where the White Sox have started off horrible, teased at the midway point, only to hit a slide in the final few weeks of the season, disappointing the entire South Side of Chicago in the process. So why should fans think it’ll be any different this year?
The most obvious reason is that since the Tigers are hot again, everyone just EXPECTS the Sox to fade into oblivion in the coming weeks. You could already make an argument that the bad omens are starting to show their ugly heads, beginning with Paul Konerko’s concussion. But that bench that seemed not so great… well surprisingly, they’re actually making things happen.
Flowers with his homer, Jordan Danks with a walk-off, even the recently reacquired Dewayne Wise has added his own help. But it shouldn’t be the offense everyone is worried about, the pitching is what will win this division. No one should be worried about Sale and Jake Peavy.
They’ve both been the horses of this staff and have been truly carrying this team a good chunk of the season. The rest of the rotation might be were the worries come in, but more so it comes from the bullpen. Saturday the pen was a bit shaky, and there were some points earlier in the week that may have put some Sox fans on edge.
The thing, here, is that Sox fans are way too familiar with the team fizzling out at the end in recent years. It’s good to be cautiously optimistic, because there are numerous things going right for this team. But the only way the team is going to overcome Detroit is if the offense and the pitching are both on the same page every game, and that’s something that should be occurring more at this point of the season.
There’s seven games left against the Tigers, meaning plenty of opportunities for the Sox to bury them, or fall face first into the dirt once again.