CHICAGO -- Finally elevated enough to be able to look down at rock bottom, the Chicago White Sox were able lament Wednesday's missed opportunities against the Detroit Tigers while still knowing that a better brand of baseball has arrived.
The White Sox just completed their first winning homestand in three months, and while it might not prove that things are permanently on the rise, it is finally a sign that the club wasn't as bad as their recent 10-game losing streak, and 13 defeats in 14 games suggested.
Bottoming out never is a graceful thing to do, and the healing process can have its issues as well, but in going 6-4 in the last 10 home games, the White Sox look to be in a better place, even though they lost four veterans in trades and, more recently, just left 15 runners on base in a 6-4 defeat to the Tigers on Wednesday.
"It's kind of a different team right now," manager Robin Ventura said. "We have some new players and it becomes a different mix of who you're playing. It's good. It's good they're starting out this way."
They hope to one day call this the new beginning, and it was no less than the opposing manager who sees a White Sox team playing free and easy instead of the one encumbered by trade deadline uncertainty.
"These guys are playing better," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I think this team, to me, the White Sox are showing what Major League Baseball is all about. They've got a lot of character. They're playing their tails off. They fight tooth-and-nail against us every single game, which is what they should be doing and that's what they're doing. That's a credit to them and their manager. It's hard to win big-league games. This one was really hard to win today."
Without Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain or Jake Peavy on the pitching staff, the White Sox opened the homestand with a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees. They lost Alex Rios during the Twins series, losing three of those four games, but rebounded to win the series against the Tigers.
There seemed to be no doubt the White Sox were collapsing as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approached. Their 10-game losing streak went from July 26-Aug. 4. But not everybody blamed the deadline chaos.
"I don't think it's because of the deadline, we're just kind of coming together better," Gordon Beckham said. "We're definitely playing a better brand of baseball against better teams so it's a step in the right direction."
What is happening now, though, might not have anything to do with the opponents at all. With the White Sox having already made changes to the roster, more tinkering is sure to be done this offseason. Better play could be the result of players trying to secure jobs moving forward.
"It's frustrating always to lose," Beckham said. "It doesn't matter where or when or what time of the season or who it is, you want to win, so I guess we don't look at it like that. We want to win. We won a series, that's a positive thing and they're a real good team."
The White Sox still have their issues. Alexei Ramirez made three errors on Tuesday and Conor Gillaspie made two on Wednesday, although one was the result of Jeff Keppinger arriving extremely late to the first-base bag. At the plate Wednesday, the White Sox were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Still, the White Sox have managed to let in some fresh air, although to Ventura's credit he wasn't going to consider a near sweep of the Tigers as a moral victory.
"No, not right now," he said. "We got a lot of hits, we just didn't get the ones we needed. We had a couple of opportunities late, guys in scoring position, we just didn't get it done. You just tip your hat to them. They pitched well. Those guys coming out of the bullpen did a good job for them."
The White Sox now head back on the road with a little more certainty than when they last left it. They have four games in Minnesota before playing three against the hot Kansas City Royals. After that it's home to play the spoiler role to the Texas Rangers. The next road trip has spoiler opportunities against the Boston Red Sox, Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.
"It's going to be a little different from here on out but you know what, we've got a young guys and we'll see how they can play," Beckham said. "That will be fun hopefully. We'll turn this around. We are playing better baseball so keep doing that."