BALTIMORE — There’s no shame in beating up on the bottom feeders.
That’s what good teams are supposed to do. That’s what the White Sox are doing.
Their 8-3 victory over the Orioles Saturday put the American League Central leaders in position for a weekend sweep of the American League’s worst team. A win Sunday would give the Sox a 6-3 road trip against the Tigers, Twins and Orioles, all losing teams. It would give the Sox a 54-35 record at the All-Star break.
“We play our game no matter who is across the line,” said outfielder Brian Goodwin, who had four hits including his fourth homer. “We don’t play down to our competition. We play up to our competition. Every game, come to play hard.”
The Sox are 6-0 against the Orioles (28-60) and 31-14 against teams under .500. They’re 21-21 against teams at or above .500.
The formula is working. Their biggest leads in franchise history at the All-Star break were 10 1/2 games over the Indians in 2000 with a 55-32 record and nine games over the Twins in 2005 with a 57-29 mark. The Sox entered Saturday with a 7 1/2 game lead over the Indians.
“We have a very nice lead in our division, and we’re playing really, really good, consistent baseball where when one area might falter one day the other parts pick up the slack,” said right-hander Lucas Giolito, who pitched 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball with nine strikeouts.
Goodwin, a minor league free agent picked up off the Pirates reject pile in early May after Luis Robert went down with a serious hip injury, batted cleanup in Tony La Russa’s pieced together lineup. He drove in three runs.
“I still feel like I have a lot to give,” Goodwin, 30, said. “I have a lot to accomplish, too. I have a chip on my shoulder, something to prove every day.”
Tim Anderson, celebrating his All-Star Game selection, doubled in a run, and Yoan Moncada doubled home Anderson and Zack Collins in a three-run third.
Leury Garcia, 7-for-15 in his last three games, doubled twice and notched his 38th RBI. Jake Burger had two hits and was on base three times, raising his average to .381.
Giolito walked two in the sixth to fall short of his eighth quality start in his last 10. In his first five innings, Giolito threw his fastball, changeup and slider for swings and misses did not allow a walk a batter. La Russa called it one of Giolito’s best starts.
“My slider felt really good today,” said Giolito, whose best pitches are usually his four-seam fastball and changeup. “I was executing it well to the glove side.”
The Opening Day starter, Giolito has not pitched to his standards but is inching closer to getting there, he said.
“Just keeping my foot on the gas pedal,” he said. “I came out with a little higher energy today, wanting to work faster and have more rhythm. Now I just have to keep it from pitch 100 to 110.”
All-Star closer Liam Hendriks cleaned up a messy eighth inning for Jose Ruiz, finishing the inning with a strikeout with the bases full and striking out two in a perfect ninth for his 23rd save. Hendriks has struck out 60 batters and walked four.
The Sox have one game to go before the break, with right-hander Dylan Cease pitching Sunday aiming to complete a sweep. After their four-day rest, they will be tested by the AL West leading Astros, who outscored the Sox 27-8 over a four-game sweep in Houston in mid June. The Sox host the Astros for three games next weekend.
“We’re going to have to beat the good teams,” former Astro Dallas Keuchel said after beating the Orioles Friday night. “We’re doing our job beating the teams we should beat. We’re very competitive now. We got our butts whupped in Houston, so I’d like to see what we’re made of to open the second half.”