White Sox top Rays 8-7 in 10, claim best record in big leagues at 43-25

The Sox are 18 games over .500 for the first time since they were 84-66 in September of 2008.

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Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago White Sox

The Sox celebrate Wednesday’s walk-off win.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Of course, the White Sox have the best record in baseball.

What else would anyone expect of a lineup featuring an outfield of Andrew Vaughn, Brian Goodwin and Jake Lamb? Or an infield with Leury Garcia at third base and Danny Mendick at second? Not to mention Zack Collins behind the dish.

Talk about a murderers’ row, people.

And add to all those guys reliever Ryan Burr, whom manager Tony La Russa turned to in the 10th inning Wednesday against the American League champion Rays?

Man, these wins practically take care of themselves.

But seriously, how have the Sox gotten to 43-25? By winning all kinds of ways. Certainly when they have more talent, and sometimes — as in an 8-7 walk-off series clincher at Guaranteed Rate Field — when they just plain don’t.

“It’s not a 25-, 26-man roster,” said Yasmani Grandal, whose single off the right-field wall with one out in the 10th scored Vaughn from third, made a loser of reliever Pete Fairbanks and dropped the Rays to a second-best 43-26. “It’s a 40-man roster that takes all of us to be able to make it where we want to go and reach our goals.”

It’s one thing to be without Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and now Nick Madrigal for giant stretches. It’s another thing to keep going without Yoan Moncada (sinus infection), Adam Eaton (leg soreness), Adam Engel (hamstring) and Billy Hamilton (oblique), too. Moncada should be back in the lineup Thursday in Houston. Engel is on an every-other-day schedule. Still, this team keeps plugging so many holes and keeps plugging along.

The Sox are 18 games above .500 for the first time since they were 84-66 in September 2008.

“I’m just happy with where this team is at,” starting pitcher Lucas Giolito said after his 100th career appearance, 94 of them with the Sox. “We’re feeding off each other.”

Manager Tony La Russa loved the vibe he detected from his players after he posted a spring training-like lineup in the clubhouse.

“The buzz in the locker room was, ‘Good. Hey, look who’s playing. Let’s go get it,’ ’’ La Russa said.

Giolito left after the sixth inning with a 7-3 lead, but the Rays scored two in the seventh on a two-run homer by Mike Zunino off Codi Heuer and two more — both unearned — in the eighth after Mendick started the inning by booting a routine ground ball for an error. Those runs went on Aaron Bummer’s tab, and Giolito was robbed of his sixth victory.

“[Mendick] apologized for the error,” La Russa said. “I said, ‘Don’t you ever apologize unless you don’t try enough.’ This club has really got their act together, and it’s special.”

Burr, a 27-year-old who had Tommy John surgery in 2019, spent 2020 at the Sox’ alternate site in Schaumburg, was called up a few weeks ago from Triple-A Charlotte and made only his fourth appearance of the season. He inherited a runner on second to start the 10th but got three huge outs, surviving a fly ball off the bat of Taylor Walls that landed in Vaughn’s glove a couple of feet in front of the fence in left.

“It’s indescribable, to be honest,” Burr said.

It’s two out of three in the Sox’ first series in 15 years in which the teams were 1-2 in the big leagues based on record. It’s six wins in the Sox’ last seven games. It’s keeping the pedal to the metal no matter who’s in and who’s out, who’s healthy and who’s not.

“The best team in baseball is the one that stands alone at the end of the season,” Grandal said. “It’s still a long season. We’ve just got to keep on playing.”

Why not? It has worked wonderfully so far.

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