Despite big division lead, White Sox have plenty to play for down the stretch
There isn’t much chance they lose their lead in the American League Central, but there’s playoff seeding and home-field advantage in October to consider.
Jose Abreu has not forgotten the six home runs he hit in three games at Wrigley Field last season, but he is forward-focused.
“It was special, but that’s in the past,” Abreu said. “I think the focus right now is just to play these three games here, try to help the team win this series and do our best. This is a nice place to play, but, like I said, our focus right now is winning.”
The White Sox had lost nine of their previous 14 games heading into Friday. There isn’t much of a chance that they’ll lose their lead in the American League Central, but there’s playoff seeding and home-field advantage in October to consider.
Last September, the Sox went on a 2-8 slide to end the season that cost them a division title and put them in a wild-card series against the Athletics with all three games played in Oakland.
That’s the kind of scenario the Sox would like to avoid this time around.
“There’s a lot of promise in the clubhouse, and you kind of feel it and see it,” reliever Craig Kimbrel said. “Now we have to go out and do it.”
Most of the August schedule will be a test of whether the Sox can go out and do it. After they play the Cubs and Twins on the road, they face the Yankees, Athletics, Rays and Blue Jays. All teams with records well above .500.
The Sox’ position in the postseason might end up having a lot to do with how they handle the two-week stretch that has them facing those four teams.
“Everybody’s expecting to win every single night, and that’s what winning teams have to do,” Kimbrel said. “That expectation can be a good thing. You’re going to have to have it when we get to October.”
Eloy feeling pressure?
Getting Eloy Jimenez back takes some of the weight off the rest of the lineup’s shoulders, but Abreu doesn’t want Jimenez trying to make up for lost time all at once.
“It’s a difficult thing to control because as a player, as a competitor, everybody wants to do their best and produce,” Abreu said. “For them especially, they will feel that necessity and urgency to produce and do good. It’s on us to try to guide them and try to help them and just let them know, ‘You are going to do good. Just take your time.’ ”
Jimenez hit an RBI double Thursday night to snap an 0-for-13 skid and doubled in the sixth inning Friday.
Jake returns from the farm
Jake Lamb, who returned from his rehab assignment, was reinstated from the injured list. Lamb had been out since June 28 with a strained right quadriceps.
“He has had a lot of playing time,” manager Tony La Russa said of Lamb’s Triple-A rehab stint. “Over the weekend, we’re going to go one game at a time as far as figuring out the lineup, so we’ll see if he just comes off the bench or he actually gets a start. But he did his work at Charlotte, got a lot done.”
Reliever Matt Foster was optioned to Charlotte to make room on the active roster.