White Sox’ win over Cubs shows how tough rest of season could be
The Sox won thanks to a four-run 10th inning, highlighted by Brian Goodwin’s two-run homer, but they still had to survive a scare in the bottom of the inning.
They don’t all look the same, but every win counts the same in the standings. The White Sox beat the Cubs 8-6 on Friday in a game Sox manager Tony La Russa described as a valuable lesson for how hard the last stretch of the season will be.
“We understand it’s going to be difficult to get to the finish line; it’s never easy,” La Russa said. “And if they ever needed reminding, just replay today’s game.”
The Sox had a comfortable 4-1 lead in the eighth inning, and with ex-Cub Craig Kimbrel set to hold that lead for closer Liam Hendriks, the blueprint for a routine victory was laid out.
Instead, Cubs shortstop Andrew Romine hit his first home run in four years, a three-run shot that tied the game. Kimbrel gave up his first earned runs since May 15 and allowed four hits in an appearance for the first time since May 2011.
The Sox went on to win, thanks to a four-run 10th inning sparked by Brian Goodwin’s two-run homer, but they still had to survive a scare when Frank Schwindel led off the bottom of the 10th with a two-run shot.
“First six innings were just grinding,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘We missed a couple of chances to add, but the last three or four were just ridiculous.”
The lesson for La Russa’s team the last two weeks has been that even the best teams go through slogs, and often in the midst of those, even the wins don’t come easy.
And looking forward, heroics by players from every part of the roster are necessary. After Kimbrel’s rough eighth inning, Hendriks got four outs to get the Sox to extra innings.
Then, for the second time in the last week, Goodwin connected for a decisive late-inning homer.
“When you look at the push toward the playoffs, you need a deep roster,” starter Lance Lynn said. “You need guys to be able to come through in the clutch who might not be in there every day.”
The Sox’ bats didn’t come to life until they got to the Cubs’ bullpen. Starter Kyle Hendricks held them to two runs in the fourth inning. The rest of their scoring came against relievers Trevor Megill, Kyle Ryan and Manny Rodriguez.
“It’s no secret; if you see our offensive stats, we’re not having a good year,” Jose Abreu said. “This has been a really tough season for us as a team, especially offensively.”
Things should improve on that front now that Eloy Jimenez is back in the lineup and Luis Robert is on schedule to come back after this weekend.
Without them, the Sox rank near the bottom of the league in home runs, and they’re 11th in baseball in slugging percentage at .411. It’s not all bad, however. Despite feeling like they’ve struggled as a group, the Sox’ offense has a seventh-ranked .248 batting average, and they have scored the eighth-highest number of runs, and Friday’s offensive output should push them even higher in both categories.
“Having everybody healthy and playing at the same time should be a very good thing for us,” Abreu said, “something that should carry us to the finish line.”
These experiences might be helpful in getting through the season’s last eight weeks, but Hendriks is cautious about drawing parallels from Friday’s game to what October is going to be like.
“I mean, it’s very hard to comprehend and put a connection between postseason baseball and anything else,” Hendriks said, “purely based on the fact it’s where the possibility of going home is a factor.
‘‘That’s one of the biggest drivers that I’ve found in a lot of guys; you almost put too much pressure on yourself. Once you’re relaxed and get into it, that’s where you’re able to do those things in the postseason.”