The White Sox are surging, and they’re putting on a show so entertaining that you’ll never forget the moment they went from rebuilders to contenders.
The definition of “rebuild” isn’t a hard one, and some declared the White Sox rebuilding project over the second the 2019 season ended, knowing 2020 would be different. For others, a rebuild isn’t complete until the winning happens, perhaps even winning it all.
Maybe you waited until the team signed Yasmani Grandal. Maybe you waited until spring training. Maybe you waited until this year’s record got above .500. Maybe you’re still waiting to make your own declaration.
But no matter when you think the White Sox rebuild should officially expire, there’s no doubt that this team is in a very different place right now. And they’ve got there in impeccable fashion.
In the last week and a half, the White Sox have hit four home runs in a row, rattled off a seven-game winning streak, seen José Abreu hit six homers in a three-game span, made a statement by taking two of three from the Crosstown-rival Cubs and had Lucas Giolito throw a no-hitter.
This is when the White Sox became a force to be reckoned with.
“It’s showing what we as the team are capable of, what we’ve been building toward for all these years now,” Giolito said Tuesday night. “We’ve turned that corner, we are playing confidently night in and night out.
“Obviously, we had a couple of rough patches early in the year, but it feels like things have changed. Every time we come to the park, we are ready to attack the day and win a ballgame. And that’s what it’s all about, that’s how we are going to get ourselves to the postseason and further.”
As startling as the four consecutive homers were, as impressive as the seven straight wins were and as flag-planting as the Crosstown series win was, nothing can top what Giolito did Tuesday. The opposing Pittsburgh Pirates, the owners of baseball’s worst record, looked lost from the jump, and Giolito pounced. He was dominating, he was efficient, and he looked like one of the best pitchers in baseball, which he has made himself with a remarkable transformation since finishing the 2018 season as, statistically, the worst pitcher in baseball.
It was an outstanding moment for him, individually, and his teammates couldn’t heap enough praise on a guy they’ve been proud to watch evolve into the pitcher he is today.
But it was an outstanding moment for this team, too, another statement made by these White Sox that they’re ready to contend with the rest of baseball’s elite class en route to accomplishing their biggest goals.
“We kind of get lost in the fact that we took a series from our Crosstown rival. We get lost in history tonight with a no-hitter. But if you look at what our team is doing as a whole, we're on pace to have a pretty darn good 60-game season,” catcher James McCann said. “And as fun as tonight was, as much as I'm going to relive tonight for, really, the rest of my life, tomorrow's a new day and we have to get back to work and continue to grow and continue to mature as a team to get to the ultimate goal.
“And that's the playoffs and then the World Series.”
Watching what this team has been able to show in such a short amount of time makes you wonder if putting “White Sox” and “World Series” in the same sentence isn’t so crazy after all. These South Siders are looking more capable by the day of winning in October.
Any team that wants to throw their No. 1 arm at the White Sox will be countered with Mr. No-hitter. Already this season, Giolito’s gone head to head with Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, the only pitcher in the American League who has a higher WAR than Giolito after Tuesday night. And Giolito matched Bieber, if he didn’t outduel him, in a terrific pitching matchup on national TV a couple weeks ago.
Come the postseason, teams are going to have to try to figure out Giolito. And Dallas Keuchel. And Abreu. And Eloy Jiménez. And Luis Robert.
Good luck with that.
Not every day is going to be Tuesday. The White Sox shouldn’t expect to play .889 baseball — which they’ve done over their last nine games, nearly a sixth of this shortened 60-game campaign — the rest of the way. But they have the ingredients to strike fear into any opponent.
They just bashed the Cubs’ brains in, and while they’ve yet to do much damage against the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, the class of their own division, neither of those teams need to be reminded of what Giolito can do. Prior to Tuesday, the best outing of Giolito’s career came against the 100-win Twins last season in Minneapolis, when he tossed a three-hit shutout.
A little more than a year to the day from that performance, he was topping that effort with his 13-strikeout, 101-pitch no-no on the South Side.
A dominant moment that will be connected to Giolito forever. And it might just be one of the most important nights — or at least the exclamation point on one of the most important stretches — as this franchise cranks up for a decade of contention.
The national spotlight generated from the last week and a half of feats, and particularly from Giolito's no-hitter, ought to provide a serviceable introduction to what this team is capable of. So baseball, meet the White Sox. They’re here to make some noise.