Robin Ventura says surviving rough first three months could make White Sox stronger

SHARE Robin Ventura says surviving rough first three months could make White Sox stronger
SHARE Robin Ventura says surviving rough first three months could make White Sox stronger

BY TONI GINNETTI

For the Sun-Times

The bad first three months of the White Sox’ season might turn out to be the best thing that could’ve happened to them.

That’s how manager Robin Ventura and his players are looking at what’s ahead as they attempt to beat the odds to reach the playoffs.

‘‘It’s been so mentally grinding to get to this point, and now it’s starting to click, and you like how it is,’’ Ventura said Sunday. ‘‘Other teams might have had it easier and feel it’s getting to the grind part of the season now.

‘‘Right now, we’re probably better off having gone through what we did together. We weathered a storm and got through it together.

‘‘For us, having that behind you — the hardest part — can help. This feeling now [going 18-11 since June 30], that can help get you through August and September.’’

Ventura believes keeping Jeff Samardzija matters, too.

‘‘You know what you have, and it would have taken away from it if Jeff was traded,’’ he said. ‘‘It doesn’t seem like you’re getting better if you take away a Jeff Samardzija.’’

Even after Samardzija suffered his shortest outing of the season in a 12-3 drubbing by the Yankees, Ventura was sticking by his starter.

‘‘They beat us,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘We have to get ready for tomorrow. But I’ll take my chances with Shark anytime he goes out there.’’

Samardzija was riding an impressive streak of 10 games in which he pitched at least seven innings and had posted a 2.27 ERA in his last five starts (3-1) since July 4.

But Jacoby Ellsbury put Samardzija and the Sox in an immediate hole with his 12th career leadoff home run, and they added eight more runs before Samardzija left in the fifth.

‘‘You’ve got to move on from it,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘It’s not what we wanted. I put too many guys on base for free, for sure.’’

Samardzija (8-6) was making his first start since the trade deadline. He had been the prime topic of trade speculation before general manager Rick Hahn decided against any moves.

The Sox have moved up in the hunt for the second wild-card spot, but they’re still a sub-.500 team and have been since mid-May.

‘‘We know our backs are up against the wall, and we need to win as many as possible as soon as possible,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘The same thing applies for me that applies to everybody. Show up and turn the page and go get them tomorrow.’’

The last months of the season heighten the playoff races, but August can be the most difficult before the ‘‘September push.’’

‘‘Everyone knows August is a difficult month in the schedule because you’re entering the last two months, and teams are getting hot and the competition is hot,’’ Jose Abreu said. ‘‘You have to keep your focus because this is what you play for. You work hard to have this moment, and you have to keep working hard.’’

As good as their 7-1 road trip was, the Sox have had problems keeping up the pace at home.

They have lost six of the last seven at home against the Yankees, Cardinals and Royals — all division leaders.

They’ll play the Royals again and the West Division-contending Angels in the next two weeks.

‘‘It’s not early, and it’s not halfway anymore,’’ said Adam Eaton, who’s on an 11-game hitting streak. ‘‘We’re getting toward the homestretch. I wouldn’t say there’s urgency, but you come ready to play every day. We’ve got to keep pushing. We need to have a bit of ‘Hey, let’s get going. Let’s have a good game.’ We’ve been playing some good baseball the last two weeks, but we’ve got to keep pushing.’’

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