White Sox dig in for rugged — and likely telling — June

Sox take three-game winning streak into toughest part of schedule, starting with Yankees in New York.

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The White Sox are 133-137 since Tim Anderson walked off the Yankees in the Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 12, 2021.

The White Sox are 133-137 since Tim Anderson walked off the Yankees in the Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 12, 2021.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

NEW YORK — If the White Sox defeat the Yankees on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, they’ll have a 4-0 record in June and their first four-game winning streak of the season.

Is this too much to expect from a team whose expectations have been dashed repeat-edly since the fall of 2021? Is it too much for manager Pedro Grifol to ask?

For a team that went 8-21 in March and April and 15-14 in May and has a 10-20 record on the road, it seems like a lot. But it would be a mighty fine — dare we say necessary? — way for the Sox to get started in the toughest month of their schedule yet.

At 26-35, they’re in survival mode, treading water and trying to sustain something, anything, to re-engage fans who’ve watched them go 133-137 (plus 1-3 in the 2021 postseason) since Tim Anderson’s walk-off homer against the Yankees in the “Field of Dreams” game in August 2021.

Trading wins and losses will make it easy for the front office to decide what to do as the trade deadline approaches. Winning series in June against teams with winning records might make it seem like this team is actually worth keeping.

Stay tuned.

And brace yourselves for series this month against the Yankees (36-25), Marlins (33-28), Dodgers (35-25), Mariners (29-30), Rangers (38-20 through Sunday), Red Sox (30-30) and Angels (31-30). Eleven of those games are on the West Coast.

Perhaps the Sox learned from their spring folly. If you notice them swinging at fewer bad pitches and walking fewer hitters, you might be equipped to believe that.

“We’re going through something that’s going to be educational for us down the road,” Grifol said last weekend. “We never want to go through this, but we are going through it. It is what it is. We’ve just got to learn from it and move on, make sure that we have the awareness to be able to stop it down the road.”

While Grifol was saying that, the Sox were in the process of sweeping a three-game series against the Tigers in the weak American League Central. Grifol sees no need to focus on the gift that is the Sox’ division, where the front-running Twins are 31-29 and everyone else is below .500. He’s a one-game-at-a-time manager, he says. But he also has said there’s no use even thinking postseason until the Sox get to .500.

Grifol likes seeing some of the little things that help teams win, like Yoan Moncada making a read on third base and not trying to score on a ground ball with the game tied. Moncada’s judgment paid off Saturday when a wild pitch allowed him to score the winning run against the Tigers.

The things in plain view for all to see are the bullpen — featuring Kendall Graveman and Keynan Middleton riding 13-game scoreless streaks and Liam Hendriks rounding back to form in his comeback from cancer — as well as a starting rotation with a 3.53 ERA in the last 23 games.

And the team is healthy.

The Sox are “continuing to develop as a team,” said Grifol, the rookie manager.

And so this important stretch begins Tuesday night, and it’s the Sox who might be on the right side of injury luck: Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ megastar slugger, is day-to-day with a sore toe after crashing through an outfield wall Sunday while making a catch against the Dodgers.

Ordinarily, this would be a month for the Sox to try to play .500 baseball. Because of the hole they’ve dug, they’ll instead need to demonstrate they’re not as awful as they’ve seemed by having a good month against good teams, keeping in mind that the all-important September schedule begins with 16 games against division opponents. After that, the Sox finish the season with the Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Padres.

We’ll see what they’re made of, and soon.

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