MINNEAPOLIS -- It’s hard to tell if the brand of baseball the Chicago White Sox played this weekend during a three-game sweep in the Twin Cities was impressive to see or just plain torturous for the club’s fan base.
If the White Sox can continue to play this way over the final 6½ weeks of the season they can be in business in a winnable division. But had they played this way for even a two- or three-week stretch this year they would be far out in front of the American League Central.
The White Sox have been on the hunt for an identity since the first day of the season when they crushed the Cleveland Indians and an offensive powerhouse appeared to be born.
Even up until the ninth inning Saturday, their recent good play against the Twins was credited mostly to solid pitching. But a four-run ninth inning Saturday, capped by a Brent Lillibridge home run, led to a seven-run game Sunday that included home runs from Lillibridge again, Paul Konerko, Rios and Alexei Ramirez.
“The way we’ve been playing, scoring early really helps us say we have a chance to win the game,” Lillibridge said “If we wait and wait and they take a lead, then we have to battle back and we’re tighter. If we score early, a run across or two in the first couple innings, we have a great situation.”
Jake Peavy, who was the benefactor of the early lead, agreed wholeheartedly and seemed to suggest it helped him to settle into a groove against the Twins.
“It makes all the difference in the world when you get a few runs early,” Peavy said. “I’m going to be aggressive and find out where I stand.”
Working the strike zone aggressively, while pacing himself at the same time, Peavy finished off the sweep in impressive fashion.
It was a far cry from how the White Sox looked in a four-game sweep to the Yankees, but manager Ozzie Guillen said that series might have had more to do with how well the Yankees were playing rather than how poorly the White Sox did.
“The Yankees were on fire,” Guillen said. “I never remember playing against anybody that were so good in a four-game series. They were swinging unbelievable plus they have a good pitching staff. They were better than us that week.”
Where the White Sox go from here will make all the difference as their deficit in the division was cut to 5.5 games after the Detroit Tigers lost on Sunday. Will they continue to play good baseball against the struggling Baltimore Orioles this week, or will they do what they did the last time they swept a series?
After the White Sox won all three games at Fenway Park earlier this season, their only other series sweep this season, they returned home to lose back-to-back games against the Tigers and dropped seven of their next 12 games.
“Last time I say that about this team the next day I have to say I disagree with that,” Guillen said about turning a corner. “I hope these guys go out there and have fun. We don’t have that big stretch when we win 10-of-14, 10-of-12. Hopefully this is the time to do it.
“We’re going to play against Baltimore and then Kansas City. Hopefully we play better against them the way we did before. It’s all about confidence and hopefully they got the confidence back and they know they can win.”