It has been a very, very long time since I talked about the White Sox. Frankly, the events of the last five weeks or so have been surreal to say the least.
The White Sox had an off day on June 7. They had just finished dropping 2 out of 3 to both Texas and Cleveland at home. The White Sox were mired in third place at 24-33 … nine games under .500, and for all intents and purposes done with their season. The White Sox GM had publicly stated he would start shopping players. Word was that Ozzie Guillen would not survive the season as manager, and would likely leave for Atlanta to take over for retiring manager and Guillen mentor Bobby Cox. The good players were for the most part under achieving, the starting pitching was not producing, the hitting was flat.
On June 8, the Sox opened a three gam series with the Tigers … at the time far ahead of the Sox in second place, but just a few games back of the Minnesota Twins whom just about everyone was anointing the division champions. The Sox lost on June 8, but took the next two from the Tigers. They then went into Wrigley Field and beat the Cubs 2-out-of-3, with the one loss being a gem of a game: a double no hitter into the seventh before the Sox surrendered the only run of the game. Then it was off to Pittsburgh and Washington for two three game sweeps (OK … the Pirates and Nationals are the Pirates and Nationals) … but then they came home and swept the NL leading Atlanta Braves … then took two-out-of-three from the Cubs …
The often wrong talking heads moped that the Sox were playing over their heads … these were all wins against the sad National League. Once they got back to the American League, they would be back to losing.
Then it was two-out-of-three in Kansas City … then to the AL West leading Rangers and took another two-out-of-three. The crowning moment came this last week as the Sox came home and swept a four game series from the Angels (the first time they had done that since 1983) and swept the Royals to complete only their third 7 game or more homestead sweep in 110 years! When the dust had settled …. the dead and forgotten White Sox in distant third place come into the All-Star Break one-half game ahead of the Tigers for the AL Central lead. A 30 game run of 25-5 for an unbelievable .800 winning percentage!
Certainly, the starting pitching came around ….27 of the last 31 starts were deemed “quality starts” … I doubt they had that many in the preceding 27 games. The hitting also finally started to come around. Paul Konerko and Alex Rios were already having good seasons, but it was good to see the likes of Gordon Beckahm, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski, and Alexi Ramirez start hitting … not to mention a bench that has been contributing when called upon.
I have no idea why this started … that is one of the funny things about baseball … sometimes there are these miraculous occurrences that are difficult to easily explain.