The Chicago White Sox were in third place in American League Central when they started a 19-game streak against teams under .500 on July 26 in Colorado.
The Sox trailed the then-division leaders Minnesota Twins by four games and were 48-48.
The string ended on Sunday, and although they didn’t take full advantage of the tear, the Sox are tied for second in Central with the Twins – 2½ games behind the first-place Cleveland Guardians – after having defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-3 in front of 32,154 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Sox completed a three-game sweep over the Tigers and are three games above .500 (59-56) for the first time since going 6-3 on April 17.
“It was a good sweep for us,” Sox starter Lance Lynn said. “We’ve got to start winning games, we’ve got to start winning playoffs, and then we can sweep the team, especially with the (Houston Astros) team coming in. Hopefully we can keep riding high .
“We have a good team coming in this week, so we have to keep playing good baseball.”
The Sox went 11-8 against the Colorado Rockies (1-1), Oakland Athletics (2-1), Kansas City Royals (3-4), Texas Rangers (2-2) and Tigers (3-0). With Sunday’s win, the Sox swept a home streak for the first time this season.
“We got results for our efforts,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said of the series. “There are times when it’s frustrating because the ball was hit hard, but we hung on. We’re sticking to it very well. Hopefully we’ll be rewarded.
There were a few injury-related hurdles during the 19-game streak. The Sox lost shortstop Tim Anderson for about six weeks with a sagittal tape tear on his left middle finger and played the last two games of the Tigers series without center fielder Luis Robert, who left Friday’s game. with a sprained left wrist.
“He’s improved,” La Russa said of Robert. “And we just have to wait until Monday to see. He feels better. He did more work with it. If not (Monday), it should be shortly after.
AJ Pollock, slotted into the top spot with Anderson out and playing center field with Robert sidelined, started the offense with a solo homer in the third to cut the deficit to 2-1.
“You look at his credentials,” La Russa said of Pollock. “He’s a quality big league hitter and defenseman. He saw the need when Tim was gone. If he were to hit second, third or fourth, he would do that too.
Pollock doubled in the lead of the fifth and scored the equalizer on a brace from Eloy Jiménez. José Abreu singled out, giving the Sox runners into the turns with one out.
Tigers starter Tyler Alexander appeared to come out of the inning when Andrew Vaughn hit an undershot grounder. Vaughn threw away his helmet after crossing first base, thinking the Tigers had completed a late-inning double play.
“I was running as fast as I could,” Vaughn said. “I was just trying to beat him and I didn’t think I did.”
But Kody Clemens didn’t hold Willi Castro’s pitch first. Jiménez scored on the play, putting the Sox ahead 3-2.
Vaughn added a solo home run as part of a two-run eighth.
Along with the timely offense, the Sox got solid pitching from Lynn, Jimmy Lambert, Jake Diekman and Kendall Graveman.
Lynn allowed two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.
“We won the match, so that’s all that matters,” he said.
He kept his focus on the attack.
“The offense continues to do its thing,” Lynn said. “Starting to put some things together, especially with runners in scoring position, and getting that big hit. It’s part of the concert. We just have to keep going and hopefully make a run at it.
“We have a tough opponent this week. It’s a playoff team and we just have to go out there and keep putting on quality sticks and making quality pitches and see what happens.
Vaughn referred to starting pitcher Johnny Cueto “we have to show the fire we have – if we have it,” Kansas City said Wednesday while assessing the weekend for the Sox.
“Johnny said it best: ‘I want more fire,'” Vaughn said. “We had a fire. It was good.”