OAKLAND, Calif. – The White Sox are starting to believe.
They’ve won four in a row for the first time this season and have won eight of their last 11, which is exactly the sort of pace they’ll need to maintain to contend in the division come August.
A 4-3 win over the A’s on Saturday at Oakland Coliseum clinched a fourth consecutive series – something the club hasn’t done since August 2013.
The Sox clubbed 13 hits and came back from an early 2-0 deficit. Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia had three hits apiece.
Coming from behind and putting together late rallies have been a boon to the team’s confidence of late.
The Sox overcame deficits of four runs or more twice in the past week. The first ended in a 10-7 loss to the Brewers on Monday, and the second a 7-6 victory against the A’s on Friday. Regardless of the outcomes, there’s a growing sense in the clubhouse that no deficit is insurmountable anymore.
“It just says a lot about guys’ fight and not laying down and assuming we’re beat,” Adam LaRoche said after Friday’s win, which followed a five-run seventh inning to take the lead. “That’s been huge for us to be borderline dead for five or six innings with nothing going and then all of a sudden go out and score three or four runs.”
The defense has been among the worst in baseball so far, but it managed to capitalize on an Oakland baserunning error in the final play of Friday’s game to seal the win.
Carlos Sanchez, fresh off his promotion from Charlotte, had a few nice plays at second base Saturday. He showed terrific range while scooping up a grounder up the middle and flipped the ball to Alexei Ramirez for a much needed 6-4-3 double play in the eighth inning.
“You do things technically sound, you start gaining momentum with that,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You have to be technically sound and be able to hit guys. And, you know, it’s the big leagues. That’s what you expect.”
The recent success has bred a livelier clubhouse, too.
Players are still wearing the neon “I’m the straw that stirs the drink” T-shirts that poke fun of Eaton’s favorite expression. The shirt has even made its way to Oakland, with Zach Duke, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Carroll among those wearing it this weekend.
Jose Abreu joined in the fun after an RBI double in the seventh inning. He peered into the dugout and mimicked stirring a drink with his hands.
Ventura credits the success and the looser clubhouse to, in part, a new team-focused mentality. Instead of worrying about individual averages and situations, players are concerning themselves with the needs of the team first.
“You turn it into what the team can do and how you can win,” Ventura said. “I think that’s the vibe you really want. Instead of a going up there and guys just want one hit, the focus needs to be on winning games, not necessarily just raising my average.”
The other piece of the puzzle during the recent stretch has been the improved starting pitching, which is supposed to be the team’s greatest asset. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana strung back-to-back quality starts together in wins against Milwaukee.
John Danks pitched his second strong start in a row Saturday, throwing seven innings and allowing two runs. He’s made quality starts in three of his last four outings.