The White Sox and Royals were a combined 70 games under .500 and 43 games out of first place in the Central Division when they squared off Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Somebody had to win, right?
In the battle of rebuilding ballclubs, the Sox were that somebody as they prevailed 9-6 to extend their long — for them — winning streak to two games. The offense backed James Shields with 14 hits — including three home runs — to earn the victory.
And a rare victory it was, as the Sox won for just the eighth time in their last 27 games to improve to 32-61 on the season.
Leury Garcia went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI and Jose Abreu and Omar Narvaez also homered to pace the offense. Shields went 6⅔ innings and allowed four runs — two earned — on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts to up his record to 4-10. Daniel Palka also had three hits and Joakim Soria earned his 14th save of the season.
Though it appears everyone in the organization is embracing the Sox’ rebuild, and wins and losses mean less than the development of players at the big- and minor-league levels, as starter Lucas Giolito put it Friday, “we don’t want to lose. No matter what state the organization is in, we’re a group of guys who wants to go out and compete to the best of our abilities and win games.
“A lot of times this year it hasn’t gone our way whether that be from bad pitching performances, errors or lack of offense but all we can do is continue to grind and continue to improve on what we need to improve on,” Giolito added. “I know it’s a process, but all we really want to do is win games and I can’t wait to get to that point where we’re doing it more consistently.”
The Sox have the chance to do just that entering the All-Star break as they have two games remaining against a Royals team that fell to 26-67 and is plummeting into oblivion in the AL Central.
It’s not the first time the Royals have been a through a rebuild, but after suffering through a 97-loss season in 2009, they went to two consecutive World Series and captured the championship in 2015.
“We saw the process that they went through and now they seem to be going through it again, a re-grouping situation,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
“It happens. Every organization goes through it. [On] both sides of it you still have some quality major-league players and you have other guys who are continuing to develop. And I’m sure they’re also discovering what the guys that they have here are capable of doing and seeing how they’re going to continue to move forward.”
That is the blueprint the Sox are attempting to follow, even if it can prove difficult as the losses mount.
“It’s not an easy process,” Renteria said. “All of us share it through the daily grind, and we sure are elated every night that we have a victory and go through the suffering when [we] don’t. And then even through a victory and/or defeat you’re going through the process of trying to clean up things that occurred during the ballgame to try to make it as an efficient and good a team as possible.”