Sox Reporter

Sox warn future playoff foes: Watch out for flying baseballs

Sox Reporter

The White Sox have been delivering this message all season. But with the playoffs just days away, they figured the league needed a not-so-friendly reminder Saturday night:

Watch out for flying baseballs.

The latest incarnation of the South Side Hit Men blasted the Cincinnati Reds for five home runs in a 5-0 win Saturday night, a long-ball barrage that included three consecutive blasts in the eighth inning.

RELATED: Trevor Bauer jokes that Tim Anderson's 'soft for not bat-flipping' homer

Back-to-back-to-back jacks? For a team that's already knocked out four in a row this season? Rather ho-hum, wouldn't you say?

"From top to bottom, we're dangerous," shortstop Tim Anderson, who hit two homers Saturday, said after the game. "Any one of those guys can take it out of the ballpark, and any one of those guys can put it in the gap. And that's from top to bottom. So when we're clicking on all angles, we're tough to beat.

"To go back-to-back-to-back, man, that says a lot about our lineup and what we can do when we're clicking."

Yes, the rest of the American League best be on notice as the postseason arrives. The White Sox have been tormenting their AL Central foes all season long, but now the competition is about to really heat up. No matter. These White Sox can rake against anyone, as they've shown with clobberings of the Cubs and a recent 3-1 series win over the Minnesota Twins.

 

Saturday, they staged one of their "light shows" on the banks of the Ohio River, against a Reds team also vying for a playoff spot, a Reds team throwing one of the best pitchers in baseball. Trevor Bauer is probably the front runner for the NL Cy Young Award. The White Sox homered off him. Twice.

If the league hadn't noticed by now, it was a nice wake-up call. But it sounds like the league noticed.

"We've got guys from other teams telling us this team is fun to watch because (of), day in and day out, just the things this team is capable of doing out there offensive-wise, defensive-wise," right fielder Nomar Mazara said. "So they tell us all the time, 'Wow, you guys are fun to watch.'"

It might not be so fun to watch, though, when you're the team getting pounded. And while fans on the South Side will be having all sorts of fun watching their team swing it in the playoffs, the opposition's smiles might get turned upside down if the White Sox can carry their slugging ways into October.

Of course, that's easier said than done. Some of the team's few veterans of the postseason have warned in recent days that playoff baseball is an entirely different world from the regular season, and so many of these young White Sox have never been through it before.

But the recent series against the Twins, Saturday night's date with Bauer, a four-game set against the Cleveland Indians and the season-closing series against the Cubs have provided and will provide intense challenges. Whether it's Bauer or Kenta Maeda or Shane Bieber or Zach Plesac or Yu Darvish or Kyle Hendricks, the White Sox are getting their taste of playoff-caliber pitching.  Saturday night's success against Bauer is as good a sign as any that they can handle it.

"That's definitely a plus for us," Anderson said. "Those are the types of pitchers that we're going to have to beat."

No kidding. Whether it's the teams they've already tangoed with this season, like the Twins and the Indians, or the class of the AL's other divisions, such as the Tampa Bay Rays or the Oakland Athletics or the red-hot New York Yankees, those teams boast some big arms.

Fortunately for them, as the White Sox provided a reminder Saturday, they've got some mighty big bats. While those surging Yankees have caught up and in some cases passed the White Sox in numerous statistical categories, the South Siders can still lay claim to one of the top two offenses in the AL. They've got a team OPS of .800 and 88 home runs, numbers that rank second to the Bronx Bombers. Their 479 hits, .269 batting average and .469 slugging percentage, however, are all tops in the Junior Circuit.

And all this mashing that ought to have opposing pitchers shaking in their cleats has come without every player swinging a flaming stick at the same time. The White Sox have gotten MVP-caliber performances out of Anderson and José Abreu this season. Eloy Jiménez has been excellent. So, too, have James McCann and Nick Madrigal.

 

But Yoán Moncada has been hampered by the after-effects of COVID-19. Edwin Encarnación is batting just .162. Yasmani Grandal has not hit as well as he has wanted. Luis Robert is batting .104 in September. And Mazara had gone until Saturday night without a home run in his first season with the White Sox.

And still, this.

"Nomar hit his first homer tonight, and Moncada is not swinging it like he’d like to. We’re still putting up runs," starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. "(Different) guys (are) carrying the torch right now. Who knows, in a week and a half, maybe somebody else will be picking up the slack.

"With this lineup so deep, any point in time you’re going to have two or three guys that are going to carry the torch. I’m thankful I’m on this side this year watching these balls fly."

The rest of the American League isn't so lucky. And come October, they're going to have to figure out how to do what so few opposing pitchers have done against these White Sox bats this season:

Keep them in the yard.

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