DETROIT — Tim Anderson admits he was concerned when the White Sox lost Eloy Jimenez in spring training and Luis Robert six weeks ago to major injuries.
Just a little bit, and why not? He knows how valuable they are and the impact of their star power on a team aiming for the World Series.
“Of course,” Anderson said. “When you see what those two huge bats do in our lineup, and they’re missing?”
But the Sox seemingly haven’t missed a beat without them. They’re still stringing wins together, the latest a 5-4 victory in 10 innings against Detroit on Friday at rain-soaked Comerica Park that hiked their record to 39-24 in the first of three games against the Tigers.
Lucas Giolito pitched six innings of two-run ball, striking out nine, and Garrett Crochet ran his scoreless-appearance streak to 15 with two crisp innings. But closer Liam Hendriks — following a 49-minute rain delay that came after he made one pitch in a downpour — gave up a tying two-run homer to Daz Cameron, ending his 14-game scoreless streak.
Yoan Moncada’s short sacrifice fly against Jose Cisnero scored free runner Danny Mendick with the go-ahead run in the 10th, and left-hander Aaron Bummer struck out two and got a game-ending groundout with two on in the bottom of the inning for his second save.
“You look at our depth,” Anderson said. “I’ve been around these guys; I know what guys can do in this organization. We miss those two big bats, but guys are filling in and doing their jobs. It’s next guy up.”
Adam Engel, pegged as the fourth outfielder before he strained a hamstring in spring training, homered for the second straight game after returning from the injured list last weekend, and utility man Mendick had a strong all-around game with two hits, an RBI and a good play to end the game.
While outfielders Jimenez and Robert have been out and with second baseman Nick Madrigal joining them on the 60-day injured list, the pitching staff has stayed relatively healthy. Sox starting pitchers ranked second in the majors behind the Mets with a 2.99 ERA. It was the Sox’ lowest mark through 62 games since 1968, the so-called year of the pitcher.
“If you can pitch, you can go a long way in this game,” said Lance Lynn, whose 1.23 ERA leads all American League starters.
Carlos Rodon’s 1.96 ERA is second.
Giolito (3.81 ERA) allowed solo homers to Isaac Paredes and former Sox player Nomar Mazara. He struck out three in a row after Paredes’ homer in the fifth.
With a starter who isn’t overmatched by the other team’s starter on a nightly basis, or better yet overmatches him, it’s an energizing phenomenon, Anderson said.
“Knowing you have a chance to win every night from the first pitch makes you go out there excited and playing harder for your guys,” Anderson said.
“We knew what the goal was from Day 1. And it shows how tough we are, what our mindset is: Go out to win every night, rally around each other, be good teammates and pick each other up.”
In the ninth, Hendriks was standing on the mound in a driving rain and couldn’t grip the ball.
“It wasn’t safe for anybody,” he said.
“I slipped on one of the warmup pitches, and then every ball I was getting was actually wet. The umpire’s bag was wet, so every ball that was in there was immediately getting wet.”
After Hendriks threw one pitch to Miguel Cabrera, the umpires called for the tarp, setting the delay in motion. Hendriks said he kept warm walking around and working his arm, but he gave up a single to Cabrera after the delay and then the homer.
Bummer, coming off a hard-luck outing against the Blue Jays, “pitched like a champion,” manager Tony La Russa said.
“This is what the bullpen does when one guy falters a little bit,” Hendriks said. “We have the next guy in line to pick him up.”