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The Chicago White Sox are Officially a First Place Team

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

After a wild game that seemed to be destined for a loss all night, the Chicago White Sox have accomplished something the team hasn’t done since 2012 – ending an August night with a share of first place in the AL Central.  Yes, August 2020 is certainly different than any other August in terms of the MLB schedule, but this is still a moment to appreciate.

Regardless of how long this lasts, or the opponent against whom the win that pushed them into position, it is incredible to see where this team has come since that rough opening weekend against the Twins.  Since that time, the White Sox have caught fire in all facets.  Of course, there’s the home run record setting offense that lit up the Cubs last weekend, but you don’t get to a +42 run differential, third best in baseball, without help from a surprisingly resurgent starting staff and bullpen.

Last night’s game that got the Sox into first is a prime example of that.  The highlights, of course, will revolve around Luis Robert’s home run and Eloy’s missile that almost got to the concourse in center.  After all, this gave the Sox a 3-2 lead and seemed to be a turning point in the game.

Lost in that, though, is the second straight playable start from Reynaldo Lopez and a strong effort from the bullpen.  While I would’ve liked to have seen the Lopez/Gio Gonzalez pairing trotted out again, overall this did seem to work.

White Sox pitching box score 8.28.20 via mlb.com

Obviously this is not ace material from ReyLo, but all things considered he held the line and gave the White Sox a chance to win the ballgame.  As long as he is in the rotation, that will play any day of the week.  The bullpen then followed that up with a strong night all around, with the exception of Matt Foster’s mistake (and first earned runs) at the hands of a Jorge Soler homer.

Overall, this game felt close throughout and certainly had the sense of “the Sox are going to find a way to lose this one” from start to literally finish.  We’ve seen it several times in years past, so at this point it’s a natural reaction.  That fear came to fruition where the White Sox turned a Maikel Franco baserunning mistake into the game tying run, in a play that likely would’ve sent Hawk Harrelson into an all time rant had he still been in the booth.

Where the blame goes on that play (Abreu for throwing, Grandal for not looking at the ball, Colome for standing in no man’s land and not backing up home) was moot at the time.  The damage was done, and the White Sox had shot themselves in the foot.  Near defeat from the jaws of victory agains the Royals, a distant cousin of the disaster on May 28, 2016.

However, that sentiment quickly faded away – Colome got himself out of the inning in short order to keep the tie.  Yasmani Grandal then came to the plate and more than made up for his role in that atrocious play, depositing an Ian Kennedy pitch into the Goose Island seats with a majestic bat drop to boot.

Just like that, all was forgiven, the White Sox had won, and the South Siders were in a tie for first place.

Like I mentioned last weekend, this team just feels different.  It’s easy to say, since they’re winning, but it seems to be beyond that.  In a game that was basically scripted for the White Sox to lose based on years of precedent, the team flipped the script and pulled out a win.

Beating teams your supposed to is something good teams do, and it is a department the White Sox have struggled in for most of the last decade and change.  The soft tossing Royals lefty has always seemed to be a recipe for disaster.  Yet, once again in this stretch of 10 wins in 11 games, the 2020 White Sox are showing us they are not your same old White Sox.  From beating down the Cubs to Giolito’s no hitter to taking care of business against the dregs of the Central, this team is here to stay.

Regardless of how long this moment in first place lasts, this is a monumental moment for this team.  A statement that they belong in the upper ranks of the division and are a serious contender in this crazy 2020 season.  For the skeptics that don’t think this is real, the White Sox will have the perfect opportunity to showcase their strength on Monday when they trek north to the Twin Cities.

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