White Sox beat Tigers as excitement for postseason builds

After a season of waiting for the inevitable, it’s finally October, and the playoffs are close. And if things go the way the Sox want, the postseason will be the ultimate payoff after years of rebuilding.

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Jose Abreu points to the sky after his third-inning home run.

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After months of waiting for the inevitable, it’s finally October, and the playoffs are within reach for the White Sox. If things go how they want, this postseason will be the payoff of years of rebuilding.

Shortstop Tim Anderson, who was around through the lean years, admitted he didn’t see the front office’s vision at first.

“[That’s because] I was obviously just thinking within the organization, but to see some of the trades and some of the free-agent signings that we have got, it definitely shows they’re the guys with the plan,” Anderson said before the Sox beat the visiting Tigers 8-1 on Friday night to open the last series of the regular season.

“I guess it wasn’t for me to see,” Anderson added, “but now I do see it, so I’m excited and couldn’t be more happy to be right in the middle of it. Hopefully we can keep continuing to come together and try to succeed [with] those plans and take care of business.”

Anderson went 4-for-4 to raise his average to .306, all but assuring himself his third straight .300 season. The win moved the Sox to a season-high 24 games above .500. More important, it was their fifth straight victory as they try to enter the playoffs on a roll.

As Anderson alluded to, the Sox’ business during the rebuild included shrewd trades and signings that turned them into an Octo-ber contender. But not everything is new. Jose Abreu, like Anderson, also predates the rebuild and has been a crucial part of the Sox’ ascent. The 2020 American League MVP reached another milestone Friday with a home run in the third inning, giving him his fifth 30-homer, 100-RBI season.

Anderson and Abreu are leaders of a team that’s trying to do better than it did in last year’s playoffs, when it fell to the Athletics in three games. The Sox’ lack of starting pitching depth did them in; to address that, they acquired right-hander Lance Lynn from the Rangers for Dane Dunning.

Lynn (11-6), making his final start before the postseason, lasted five innings, allowing one run while striking out four. He ended his first regular season with the Sox with a 2.69 ERA and 176 strikeouts over 157 innings, a new contract, fan-favorite status and perhaps the responsibility of being the team’s Game 1 playoff starter.

“The only thing that really matters is I’m feeling as healthy as I possibly can,” Lynn said. “That’s an A [grade]. We’re ready to rock.”

The Sox hope that whoever starts that first game in the divisional round will get extended chances in October. Outfielder Luis Robert (who says he’s at full strength) is confident the Sox can avoid what happened in 2020, when they took Game 1 against the A’s and then didn’t win again.

“We have a good chance to have a good run, and we are going to try to take advantage of it,” Robert said through a translator.

Third baseman Yoan Moncada, acquired along with right-hander Michael Kopech from the Red Sox for Chris Sale in the trade that kickstarted the rebuild, wasn’t able to take advantage of his chance last year, through no fault of his own. He was hampered by the effects of COVID-19 and wasn’t at full strength.

Other than his right shoulder bothering him just a little, Moncada is ready for the playoffs to finally begin.

“It’s an exciting time for all of us,” he said through a translator. “I think the experience that we had last year put us in a way better spot for this year, and [I’m] just excited to start playing in the postseason.”

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