BOSTON — With each passing victory that nudges the White Sox closer to the .500 mark, Jeff Samardzija’s chances of staying with them draws nearer, too.
That would be okay with the Sox right-hander, who checked off his 10th consecutive start of seven innings or more in the White Sox’ 9-4 victory over the Red Sox Tuesday, the suddenly revitalized team’s sixth straight win. The Sox have won 11 of 17 and 20 of 32.
“I’ve said for a long time I really enjoy this team,” Samardzija said. “I love how we play the game and I always thought that things that didn’t go well were strictly performance based. It was on field play and bounces here and there, and when that’s the issue, it’s a good problem. You know that you need to put a little harder work in, pay a little closer attention on the field and then things will turn around.“If it’s chemistry or other random things, that’s tough to deal with. I think the problems we had were all fixable. The personality and everything in clubhouse has been great.”Carlos Sanchez replaced Micah Johnson at second base and improved the defense on the right side of the infield. Alexei Ramirez emerged from his funk and is playing sound, and at times flashy, defense at shortstop. Tyler Saladino came up from AAA Charlotte as a stabilizing option at third base who can also handle the bat.The Sox are hitting for the first time all season, and as Adam Eaton said Monday and Samardzija echoed Wednesday, some breaks are beginning to go the Sox’ way as well.“I thought we played hard [when the Sox played bad],” Samardzija said. “There were a couple of games there against the Royals, it seemed like every broken bat they hit went in the hole or hit some chalk. Every one we hit turned into a double play. A lot of times it’s just the way it goes. When you let that stuff get to you, you start to see records snowball. When you keep fighting and working hard, those things start to turn and will go your way. We’ve seen that here the last couple of weeks.”Manager Robin Ventura, under fire while the team went 8-11, 15-15 and 10-16 in the first three months, is getting credit for holding the team together. Ventura credits his players for sticking together and “withstanding some shots.”“You like the way these guys have responded,” he said. “They’ve been beaten down enough over a lot of things, so to have the patience to stick with it, the fortitude to put it behind you and keep grinding away it’s been fantastic.”The trade deadline is Friday, and Samardzija, who can become a free agent after the season, now seems more likely to stay than go. He hasn’t heard from his agent, he said, and if he stays the starting rotation should be good enough to carry the Sox in the final two months — as long as the defense remains acceptable.“The continuity with the guys who are out there it seems pretty fluid [smooth],” Ventura said. “If hey hit it these guys are going to catch it.”Samardzija said the Sox as constructed now are good enough to be playing meaningful games in September.“Yeah, I think we have the team to win,” he said. “We’ve shown that when we play the way we can play we can rattle off a lot of games in a short amount of time. That’s a big factor in how a team performs. Can they win back to back games and put streaks together, which means you have depth, your bench is strong and you are pitching real well. When you can prove that, that says a lot about our team.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8toTmCWbmYIt’s not even out of the realm of possibility that general manager Rick Hahn adds before the deadline. The slumping Minnesota Twins, who occupy the second wild card spot, lost Wednesday and have two fewer losses than the Sox.“As long as you’re adding the right guys I think it’s great,” Samardzija said. “You need to know your personality of the clubhouse and the guys you have in there and when you add the similar type personality guys, things usually work well. Look at the trade like Kansas City with a guy like Cueto, you could see him pitching with the Royals even before. You’ve got to match up personalities and how does he fit into the team? What at-bats is he taking away, who is he taking innings from and things like that. But if you hit it right it can be a huge addition to a team, especially if the guy is a big energy guy and loves to come to the field and work.”