Something crazy happened at Guaranteed Rate Field today.
I mean, yes, the Chicago White Sox came out on top over the Oakland Athletics by a final score of 4-1, securing their first series victory at home since June.
But that wasn’t it.
The crazy thing is that I, a lifelong White Sox fan with cynicism pulsing through my veins, don’t have anything to complain about today. Everything went right. Everything went as planned. The White Sox, in the middle of a 19-game stretch of playing teams worse than .500, came out today and actually beat a team they were supposed to beat.
No one even got hurt.
José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez did what power hitters of their caliber are supposed to do. Abreu went yard in the second inning, opening up the scoring his 12th home run of the year.
Jiménez’s easy-swing solo blast came in the seventh, adding a vital insurance run against Oakland’s starter (and the Windy City ThunderBolts’ own) Adam Oller, who did a decent job of keeping the game within reach for the A’s.
The White Sox even looked good on the basepaths. Take a look at this play in the second inning: With Josh Harrison on second base, Leury García poked one through into right field to score the run. Look closer — when the throw missed the cutoff and went all the way home, García took second base. That kind of heads-up play, doing the little things right, translates into good, winning baseball.
It was a sight for sore eyes.
Dylan Cease came out and, unsurprisingly, Ceased. He made one mistake to Ramón Laureano in the second inning, but that was it. Laureano’s solo blast comprised the whole of the A’s scoring all afternoon. Cease is putting together some stats that, if he can maintain his consistency, should put him as a Cy Young finalist. The Stache went six innings in his 11th win of the season, allowing just four hits and striking out seven. His ERA is now 2.01, and his season strikeout total sits atop the leaderboard at 161.
Even the bullpen worked as designed today. Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman came out for the seventh and eighth innings and held the A’s down. Liam Hendriks closed things out in the ninth, earning his 20th save of the season, with his signature fist-pump-and-scream routine.
It was the exact bullpen performance that general manager Rick Hahn envisioned in the offseason, and has been sculpting out of a plate of mashed potatoes ever since.
And that was it. No complaints. No notes. Just a good team win.
I had forgotten what those felt like.
I am forced to ask for the umpteenth time — are the White Sox starting to turn it around? Are they finally getting out of their own way? Is this ... is this it? Time will tell. The 51-50 White Sox welcome the last-place Kansas City Royals to town next, for a three-game set beginning tomorrow.
Today’s scorebook highlights:
- After Gavin Sheets sharply lined out, Oakland first basemen and Sox killer Seth Brown calmly stepped on the bag to double off Abreu. I had NO IDEA how to score that, and I was too lazy to look it up.
- Andrew Vaughn is still struggling to find his swing at the plate, and while he works it out, he was swinging at pitches that were a country mile outside the zone.
- Sox win!