A month ago, the White Sox kicked off the BP Crosstown Cup series on the North Side with a 18-21 record, 4 12 games behind first-place Cleveland. They hadn't won a series since sweeping Seattle April 20-22 and were coming off an odd two-day trip to Anaheim to play the Angels.
The Sox swept the Cubs, and after losing on May 22 to the Twins rattled off nine consecutive wins. By June 3, the Sox had a 2 12 game lead over Cleveland, and they haven't relinquished first place since.
But the Sox haven't held on to first place because of good play. They've dropped four consecutive series, salvaging lone victories against Toronto, Houston, St. Louis and Los Angeles to go 4-8 in their last dozen contests. The baseball has been a little better against the Cardinals and Dodgers, with the Sox losing four games against those clubs by a total of five runs.
The Cubs have baseball's worst record and third-worst run differential. But the Sox draw Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster in this three-game series against the untested Zach Stewart and struggling Gavin Floyd. Winning the series won't be easy, but perhaps doing so would act as a springboard going forward.
After the Cubs, the Sox welcome Milwaukee to town for the time since 2000. A seven-game swing to Minnesota and New York follows, and then the Sox host Texas and Toronto leading into the All-Star break. That's not an easy stretch, although the Sox pasted good teams in Cleveland and Tampa Bay to make up the meat of the nine-game winning streak.
A series win over the Cubs could jump-start a lagging team, or at the least, it could provide a nice cushion in case the Sox falter against such a difficult upcoming slate. The action starts tonight, and you can catch every game of the series on Comcast SportsNet.
It might be a long shot for the White Sox to sign free agent Manny Machado, but here on the White Sox Talk Podcast, we like dark horses. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss what it would take to bring Machado to the South Side. Plus, is he "the" guy the White Sox are targeting this offseason? Will the Rockies listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado a year before he reaches free agency? Plus, Chuck talks about a cost-controlled, All-Star on a rebuilding team that could be an answer at third base.
Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:
Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.
The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:
— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.
— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.
— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).
— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.
— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)
— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).
Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.