Two months are in the books, and the rebuilding White Sox — with one good starting pitcher and a major-league-worst .562 OPS from the cleanup spot — are a mere two games below .500. Watch as they sneak up on the second-place Indians in the American League Central.
Maybe there is something to be said for a little sass. Maybe it’s good when shortstop Tim Anderson shows the Royals the door at Guaranteed Rate Field with a ‘‘we don’t like you’’ goodbye.
‘‘We don’t like the Royals, the Indians . . . anybody that’s not a White Sox, so let’s make that clear,’’ manager Rick Renteria said before the Sox’ 10-4 victory Thursday against the Indians. ‘‘Anybody that’s not a White Sox, we don’t like. We want to make sure we beat them, if we can, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.’’
The Sox are finishing an end-of-the-month spin through the AL Central that began with them getting swept by the first-place Twins last weekend. They bounced back with a three-game sweep of their own against the struggling Royals and opened a four-game series against the Indians with left-hander Manny Banuelos, who had been 0-4 with a 14.40 ERA in his previous four starts, beating Sox killer Carlos Carrasco.
Banuelos pieced together a serviceable outing by allowing three runs and five hits in 5 1⁄3 innings, which is ‘‘we’ll take it’’ material for a Sox rotation that has made 19 quality starts. Aside from pitcher-of-the-month candidate Lucas Giolito (7-1, 2.85 ERA), Sox starters have struggled, with ERAs of 5.47 (Dylan Covey), 6.20 (Reynaldo Lopez), 6.52 (Ivan Nova) and 7.36 (Banuelos). Yet they find themselves only a game behind the Indians.
‘‘This series? Cleveland? Oh, yeah, huge series,’’ said Giolito, who is scheduled to start the finale Sunday. ‘‘It starts with the starting pitching. We need our starters to come out firing strikes, attacking the zone, and the offense can take care of itself.’’
The offense did, with Jose Abreu driving in three runs with a home run and a sacrifice fly to take over the AL lead in RBI with 49; Eloy Jimenez driving in two runs with a double to go with two singles; Leury Garcia getting three hits and scoring three runs; and Yonder Alonso belting his first homer in two weeks. Alonso also doubled in a fun victory that left the Sox feeling pretty good about themselves.
‘‘The youth, the new blood, the new kids have meshed with the veterans,’’ Abreu said through a translator. ‘‘We have a good atmosphere here. We go out every day to win, to fight and, at the same time, to try to have fun. We have been working with Ricky and the coaches, trying to improve, trying to do the little things to win games. We’re going in the right direction.’’
Renteria said he hopes the edge Anderson plays with is rubbing off.
‘‘Timmy is a competitor,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘We need a little bit of that fire. That’s kind of an edge that hopefully will put us over the top.’’
Even though the Sox are only two games out of the second wild card spot, they know they’re a ways away from competing with the very best teams, but they split a four-game series against the Astros before the Twins sent them reeling. Instead of going into a funk, though, they regrouped.
‘‘We made sure we addressed and understood what it’s going to be like to compete against teams like Minnesota and Houston and Boston,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘Those are the clubs you have to beat to be elite. You have to be honest with yourself and look at what will be required of you to beat clubs like that. I think they took it to heart.’’