White Sox rally for big win before embarking on big trip
They took advantage of an error by left fielder Robbie Grossman with two outs in the eighth inning. Pinch hitter AJ Pollock hit a tiebreaking single, and Eloy Jimenez followed with an insurance RBI hit.
An eight-game, seven-day trip against the Guardians and Twins remains an ominous trek.
But the inconsistent White Sox overcame an array of challenges Sunday to seize a remarkable 4-2 victory against the Tigers that might make their task of eventually overtaking the Guardians and Twins seem more manageable.
They took advantage of an error by left fielder Robbie Grossman — his first after 440 errorless games — with two outs in the eighth inning when pinch hitter AJ Pollock hit a tiebreaking single off Gregory Soto and Eloy Jimenez followed with an insurance RBI hit.
Without his overpowering fastball, starter Michael Kopech overcame a brutal start to last 5„ innings, and the offense produced four two-out RBI hits after being blanked for four innings by unheralded Drew Hutchison.
“Hopefully these two wins get us [momentum],” manager Tony La Russa said after the Sox (41-43) cut their deficit to a half-game behind the Guardians (41-42) while staying five games behind the Twins (48-40) in the American League Central.
“I know because I listen to the conversations in the locker room. They know starting this week, and then what’s ahead playing the eight games in seven days. They know what a challenge that is and how deep the team is going to have to dig to compete and see how many wins we can get.”
Gavin Sheets, who hit his second home run in as many games, a tiebreaking shot off Hutchison in the sixth, concurred.
“Get after it,” said Sheets, who’s batting .423 (17-for-47) with four doubles, three homers and 12 RBI in his last 15 games. “We got a couple of games, and then we got a four-day break. It could be a tough stretch, but we got a break coming, so there’s no reason for us not to get after it and get some wins.”
The Sox earned the victory without All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson, who rested his groin and could get a break during one of the games of the day-night doubleheader Tuesday against the Guardians.
“You’ve just got to pay attention and communicate a lot with the coaching staff and training staff,” said La Russa, alluding to the fact that Anderson returned July 4 after missing three weeks because of his groin injury. “You play in your division, those are two-for-one games. But if the guy shouldn’t play, he shouldn’t play.’’
But Luis Robert wasn’t thinking about his sore legs as he sprinted to second after Grossman dropped his fly in the sun and wind.
Nor was Kopech, who started the game by throwing five balls before Javy Baez hit the next pitch for a two-run homer, thinking about leaving the game after he was slow to cover first base in the second inning and required medical attention.
“Well, there ain’t no bad win,” La Russa said. “The [8-0] win Saturday was a real good one. We came from behind today, hung in there because of what our pitchers did to keep us in the game and had some clutch two-out hits. Momentum is confidence.”
Kopech’s resilience typified the Sox’ determination to regain a semblance of the “authority” they established in winning the AL Central in 2021, closer Liam Hendriks said.
“Just inside this clubhouse, gain that [sense of] we are better than everybody else, and we can do this,” Hendriks said. “We need to get that mindset back, and that’s something we’ve had spurts of, but we haven’t really caught fire yet. I’m hoping games like Saturday and [Sunday] will help spark that fire a little bit.”