For the first time in a dozen years, the White Sox are going to the postseason.
With their 4-3 win over the division-rival Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon, the White Sox have punched their ticket to the playoffs.
It’s the first time they’ve been a part of October baseball since winning the AL Central crown in 2008, when they lost a first-round series with that year’s eventual AL champion, the Tampa Bay Rays.
After three seasons that saw a combined 284 losses, the White Sox have rapidly moved into the contention phase of their rebuilding project, currently the owners of the best record in the AL. They’d be the No. 1 seed on the Junior Circuit’s side of the playoff bracket if the postseason started today.
Of course, the White Sox still have more clinching to do. Wednesday’s win gave them a four-game lead over the Twins in the AL Central standings. They’re also ahead of the Cleveland Indians, who they play in a four-game series next week in Ohio.
But even that division title is just the first championship on their minds. Winners of 24 of their last 30 games, they look as capable of winning the pennant as any team. And the Los Angeles Dodgers are the only team in baseball with a better record than the White Sox, meaning chasing a World Series trophy is well within the realm of possibility.
“I don't think we're thinking just about getting in,” manager Rick Renteria said before Wednesday’s game. “Obviously, that's the first step. … Once you get in, anything can happen. So obviously getting in is very, very important, but you still have a lot of things to try to accomplish. I think that's what the guys are focused on.
“There's still a lot to be done. I think that's why they remain focused on the endgame, and they should be. You're thinking about the endgame and you're taking it one game at a time. We'll deal with this … as we should, with calm, like we've been there before, and then continue to move forward like you're getting ready for the next phase.”
It might have seemed a little crazy to suggest all this was possible after the White Sox lost 89 games last season. But here they are with the playoffs just a week and a half away, and not only are they in, they enter as a favorite. Their potent offense leads the AL in numerous statistical categories, and they boast not one but two top AL MVP candidates in Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson, who are on track to win their second straight RBI and batting crowns, respectively.
The long established rebuilding plans are working so far. The White Sox hope this is the first of many celebrations in the coming weeks, months and years.