And although many will point to that as the turning point in this game, if not this season, the key to the success of the resilient Sox, who maintained a one-game AL Central lead over the Tigers with their 5-4 win over the Indians, starts with Robin Ventura and his coaching staff.
The recent five-game skid would have had many a veteran manager dragging out the dreaded “team meeting.” Ventura has different approach to hard times. Instead of the collective Vince Lombardi-type speech, Ventura coaches with one-on-one, calm, instructive conversations.
This is not an indictment of Ozzie Guillen’s handling of hard times, but more of a learned trait among this interesting group of young and veteran players who have become a tight-knit family.
“You saw (a group effort) tonight,” said Sox starter Chris Sale, who pitched seven innings and allowed three runs in a no-decision. “We got some hits and scored some runs when we needed to. We just have to keep pushing. This was Dunner’s night.”
Sale may be right about Dunn and his big night, however Ventura’s belief in his bullpen, including having the nerve to close out a game with Donnie Veal, shows how his confidence in all 25 men has been the Sox’s main formula for success.
Veal got his first career save, retiring Jason Kipnis with the tying run on second base.
“(Ventura’s approach to roster) has been the key,” Sale said. “They have done a heck of a job all year. I can pretty much speak for everyone in here that we love these (coaches) and they have our backs and we have their back as well. We want to win for them and each other. When you get a good combination like that, you know we are in that position because of that.”
Veal, who had retired 24 straight left-handed hitters before Shin-Soo Choo's RBI double in the ninth, is just the latest to get his chance to shine in a clubhouse that has no doghouse.
“The story around here is relax and play the game,” Veal said.