Shortstop Tim Anderson wants no part of second place.
Sure, it’s better than third place. Or fourth. Or fifth.
But does it mean something for the White Sox to be tied for second place heading into June?
“No, man,” Anderson said. “We want to be in first place, and we want to keep working and keep getting better. We’re going to stay hungry.”
OK, but chew on this.
The Sox have more losses (582) than any franchise in the big leagues since the beginning of the 2013 season. They have started June in last place or second-to-last place in four of the last six years.
So it’s not a bad thing that the Sox pulled into a tie for second place with a 6-1 victory Friday against the Indians.
It’s not a bad thing that the Sox increased their season-high winning streak to five games.
It’s not a bad thing that Jose Abreu picked up his 50th RBI in 57 games or that Eloy Jimenez made a tremendous running catch in left field to rob extra bases or that Seby Zavala notched his first big-league hit.
The Sox jumped all over right-hander Trevor Bauer and a shaky Indians defense on a warm night on the South Side.
Charlie Tilson hit a two-run double, Abreu lifted a long sacrifice fly, Yolmer Sanchez ripped an RBI single and the Sox notched two more runs on two of the Indians’ four errors.
It appears as though opponents cannot take the Sox for granted any longer.
“I take a lot of pride in that, but more so for the players, who are the ones that are doing it,” manager Rick Renteria said.
Dylan Covey earned his first victory since Aug. 31 with six strong innings. He allowed one run and eight hits, walked one and struck out five.
Upbeat music blared in the Sox’ clubhouse as Covey turned to face a group of reporters.
“We’re having a lot of fun, building off each other,” Covey said. “It’s a ton of fun right now. . . . Winning is contagious. Pitching well is contagious. Hitting is contagious. We’re on all cylinders right now.”
The Sox started the day two games out of a wild-card spot in the American League.
Could a shot at the playoffs linger throughout the summer? Maybe. Could the Sox avoid a bottom-five record and another high draft pick next year? They sure hope so.
This year’s draft takes place Monday, and the Sox own the third overall pick. They had the fourth pick in 2018 (Nick Madrigal), the 11th pick in 2017 (Jake Burger), the 10th pick in 2016 (Zack Collins), the eighth pick in 2015 (Carson Fulmer) and the third pick in 2014 (Carlos Rodon).
This week, Renteria told amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler that he wants the high picks to stop.
“I said, ‘I hope you’re never selecting at the top moving forward,’ ’’ Renteria said. “That means we’re progressing at the major-league level.”
A group of Bears, including quarterback Mitch Trubisky, took in the game from a luxury suite. Trubisky threw out the first pitch with his blockers lined up in front of him and downed a beer (Aaron Rodgers, take note) when he was shown on the scoreboard midway through the game.
Last year marked the Bears’ pivot from a lengthy drought. The Sox hope to follow the same path.
“A lot of exciting things are going on right now,” Anderson said, “and we’re playing good baseball.”
Maybe not first-place good, but good nonetheless. Besides, second place feels at least a little good.
“Yeah, you know,” Anderson said. “It’s a step to where we want to go.”