As if it weren't already on display enough this month, the White Sox trotted out their revamped culture once more on Thursday night.
Technically, they sprinted it out.
Much to the Los Angeles Angels’ surprise, Tim Anderson scored all the way from first base on a two-out, eighth-inning Rymer Liriano single to cap a thrilling comeback and send the White Sox to a 5-4 victory in the home finale. Not only did they further the notion that their manager's style has taken hold, the White Sox scored three times in their final at-bat to provide a boisterous Guaranteed Rate Field crowd with one more reminder that Ricky's Boys Don't Quit.
“We just had a lot of energy,” Anderson said. “That’s something that Ricky brings out of us. He just says ‘Play hard,’ and that’s something that he branded in us.”
It’s not difficult to see Renteria’s impact on his team’s effort level during a September in which they’re now 14-13. Where many teams have mailed it in, the rebuilding White Sox have rebounded after trades brought on a summer slump.
The new attitude has been a running theme for the White Sox since Renteria was hired. While they weren’t sure who would fill out their uniforms, Renteria wanted to ensure that anyone who did would consistently give their all. General manager Rick Hahn was adamant that changing his team’s culture was just as important as the players he brought in.
Despite their 66-93 record, there’s little question the White Sox have given anything but their all this month. Thursday’s rally began with Avisail Garcia’s two-out double off Jesse Chavez, the outfielder’s 50th extra-base hit of the season. Catcher Rob Brantly followed with a game-tying, two-run homer to right ahead of Anderson’s single. Anderson took off running and never slowed down when Liriano’s grounder found the hole. The second-year shortstop watched third-base coach Nick Capra continue to wave him along, a decision that clearly caught Angels left fielder Ben Revere by surprise. The veteran threw the ball to second base, which allowed Anderson to score the go-ahead run without a throw.
Anderson completed the trek in 9.12 seconds, the seventh fastest first to home time in the majors this season, according to Statcast.
It’s the kind of play that’s emblematic of the new culture, one Hahn said earlier Thursday with which he’s very pleased.
“These guys fight every night, and they hustle every night,” Hahn said. “That’s the mentality he and the coaching staff have helped create. Even the veteran players who are here before we moved them embraced it. … They’re playing a brand of baseball I think White Sox fans can be proud of, and the ones who have spoken to me are certainly proud of.”
Renteria was pretty pleased, too.
His team provided the home crowd with a strong final impression, the type of victory he relishes. They’ve also given themselves one more example of how buying in can lead to unexpected victories. While nobody is claiming the White Sox are on the precipice of turning it around entirely, they do think they’re headed in the right direction. As Renteria noted before the game, “the little choo choo is moving forward.”
“The way they’ve been playing right now, you continue to build confidence,” Renteria said. “The other thing is how they’re doing, the things to put themselves in a position to win ballgames.
“I know we were down the whole ballgame, but you just keep playing the game. I don’t think they think too much about it other than when they have a moment they have to take advantage of.”