Ten home runs in two days?
That ought to strike some fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers.
Of course, If the White Sox could face Roel Ramirez, Matthew Boyd, Rony García and Kyle Funkhouser every day, they'd have a run differential of plus-a million billion.
The South Siders are just a game over .500, still jerking back and forth between high-octane performances and sleepy ones, after a 7-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night. But what a thunderous win it was, the kind that makes you think that if this could be a consistent thing, then all that preseason playoff talk made an awful lot of sense.
The White Sox launched six homers Monday night, Tim Anderson and Luis Robert each with a pair. Yoán Moncada and Danny Mendick hit the other two. Anderson and Moncada led off the game with back-to-back jacks, setting some new milestones just one day after the team matched a baseball record with four consecutive homers in a win over the Cardinals.
The two-day power surge has served as a jarring contrast to what happened Saturday, when the White Sox were swept away in a doubleheader, collecting just six hits in 14 innings.
“I told you things are starting to get positive,” Anderson said.
It’s going to be difficult to tell if that’s the long-lasting case until more results roll in over the coming days and weeks. But certainly days like Sunday and Monday are loud indicators of what this White Sox team can do when it’s on.
“We're dangerous,” Anderson said. “The lineup, from top to bottom, everybody can swing it. And when we're clicking like that on all angles, I don't think a team can beat us.”
Monday’s win allowed the White Sox to keep pace with the equally powerful Minnesota Twins, and they're just three games back in the season-long race for the AL Central crown. Already the South Siders have been on the wrong end of the Twins’ bats and the Cleveland Indians’ arms. But the thought that they could hang with the two titans of the division before the season started comes popping up again when they start teeing off and staging their own home run derby.
“It's incredible when they turn it on. It's definitely fun to watch. It's definitely a light show,” White Sox pitcher Gio González said. “And to show you how powerful our lineup is, it starts all the way to the top, from Timmy setting the tone to even Mendick hitting a homer. That just goes to show you where we land in this lineup.”
Few have doubted the White Sox lineup is capable of such feats. But things have gone a bit differently in practice at times this season. The challenge is making days like Sunday and Monday the norm and stopping the whiplash from one extreme to the other.
That’s even harder to do in a shortened season like this one, where there’s no time to evolve into a more consistent group. That’s made all the more difficult when there’s a new injury every day. Monday alone, Adam Engel went on the injured list and Yasmani Grandal, part of the quartet that hit four straight homers Sunday, left the game early with a stiff back.
But as all that preseason conversation showed, this team is not short on confidence. How can they use these homer-happy efforts as a propellant instead of bungee jumping back to Earth?
“Just continue to work, continue to build off of that, remembering what that felt like and taking it into the next game,” Anderson said. “We've just got to understand what we did. We waited them out, we waited and got good pitches to hit. … From top to bottom everybody had good at-bats, and we were able to pull away that win.”
Time will tell if this is truly the start of something positive or just another powerful day against the pitching staff of a team that lost 114 games last season. The White Sox had one of their listless efforts a week ago Monday against these same Tigers, but they followed that with 15 runs in two days, back-to-back wins in Michigan that saw them hit four home runs. Add Wednesday’s sextet of bombs, and the White Sox have 10 home runs in their last three games against the Detroiters.
But one thing is certain through 23 games: The White Sox can indeed swing the sticks. The ability cannot be denied. And when it all comes together, that ability shows the potential to bring about the kinds of big dreams the team talked about in the spring.