The Chicago White Sox hold a comfortable lead in the American League Central and are coming off a stretch in which they went 7-7 against the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, all fellow playoff contenders.
While a few of those losses were close to swinging in Chicago’s favor, the club still is plenty confident entering a five-game interleague homestand that begins Friday against the crosstown Chicago Cubs.
“People have to beat us,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said. “We’re going to be a team to beat.”
After scoring single runs in losses Monday and Wednesday in Toronto, the White Sox clubbed four home runs in Thursday’s 10-7 victory over the Blue Jays to split the four-game series.
Luis Robert drilled a two-run home run, while Jose Abreu, Cesar Hernandez and Eloy Jimenez added solo shots.
With Anderson (three hits) leading the attack, Chicago collected 12 hits even with streaking third baseman Yoan Moncada out of the lineup for a scheduled day off. Moncada, who tweaked his left wrist while swinging Wednesday, was fine Thursday, manager Tony La Russa said.
Despite merely facing a trip from Chicago’s North to South side, the Cubs undoubtedly appreciated Thursday’s off day after splitting a home doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.
Following a breezy, 5-2 Chicago victory in 2 hours, 9 minutes to open the twin bill, Colorado prevailed 13-10 in 10 innings in a nightcap that lasted exactly double the time of Game 1.
The Cubs took two of three from the Rockies, as a victory in the series opener snapped a franchise-record 13-game home losing streak. Outfielder Ian Happ was among the Cubs who excelled offensively during the series. After slumping to a .147 average over a 70-game stretch spanning the first and second halves of the season, Happ is batting .357 over his past 13 games with an OPS of 1.161.
“I think that it’s just trying to find a way to get on time,” Happ said. “And the other part is kind of getting away from mechanics and just finding a way to be on time and trusting that when you’re on time, you’re going to have the ability to have success.”
Cubs manager David Ross said Wednesday that it’s possible catcher Willson Contreras (right knee sprain) could serve as a designated hitter this weekend.
Rookie right-hander Keegan Thompson (3-3, 2.42 ERA) is set to get the call for the Cubs as he makes his third start and 29th appearance. He hasn’t faced the White Sox in his career, and is 0-2 with 2.25 ERA in four interleague appearances, including one start, covering eight innings.
Thompson took the loss in Sunday’s home start against the Kansas City Royals, his first big league action in nearly a month after he was optioned to Triple-A Iowa in late July, scattering two runs and five hits in four innings with two walks and one strikeout.
White Sox lefty Dallas Keuchel (8-7, 4.71) will aim to close a shaky August on a good note. Keuchel is 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA in four starts this month after pitching five innings of six-run, nine-hit ball on Saturday at Tampa Bay.
In four career starts against the Cubs, Keuchel is 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA.
–Field Level Media