It’s almost July, so it might be time for White Sox to stringing some wins together

ANAHEIM, Calif. — We’re three months in now, Fourth of July weekend is almost upon us and the White Sox jump start everyone is waiting for is still somewhere on the horizon.

Or is it?

Perhaps it will appear out here on the coast.

Every time the Sox have something resembling a turning pointmoment, they retreat into whatever it is they are now: A team that’s not hitting the long ball or scoring in bunches, is getting thrown out at home more than any other team, playing poor defense and is always hurt.

The Sox get hurt running to first base, or running into each other. Their injured list is a long one – 10 deep — and those not on it are permitted to play at three-quarter speed to help them stay off it.

The Sox can thank the American League Central for permitting them to be in striking distance of the top, a division absent of any team that appears to be a postseason threat to teams of the AL West or East. The East’s last place team, the Orioles, took three of four games on the Sox’ home field over the weekend.

That series was supposed to kick off an opportunistic soft stretch of games – Orioles (34-40), Angels (35-40), Giants (39-33), 17 straight division games and the Rockies (31-42) and Athletics (25-49) for the Sox, who opened an important road trip against the Angels and Giants Monday night at Angel Stadium after losing three of four to the Orioles at home.

The Orioles out-defended, out-ran and outscored the Sox by a 17-10 count. They outplayed the team on the field with World Series aspirations.

Meanwhile, the manager hired to make a difference and give the Sox an edge isn’t having much of a visible effect on outcomes. Tony La Russa came out of managerial retirement to guide the Sox to 93 wins and a division title in 2021, but his team got clobbered by the Astros in the ALDS and counting that series has played to a 70-73 record since July 20 of last season. The Sox (34-37)have not sustained anything for any significant stretch. Their longest winning streak is six, the longest losing streak eight.

When the Sox beat the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball on May 22, when Michael Kopech pitched seven innings of one-hit ball and Tim Anderson homered to cap a day-night sweep against the best team in baseball a day after the Josh Donaldson “Jackie” game, it felt like the Sox were back.

There have been other moments like that. And then, pffft.

The Sox lost seven of the next nine, the last loss in that stretch a 6-3 defeat at the Rays stretching their losing streak to four and sending a worrisome “what is going on here?” shudder throughout the organization.

But the Sox salvaged the last two games of that series.

A week later, it felt like an “OK, this is it” moment when they swept the Tigers in Detroit and went 4-2 on a road trip through Houston.

But sustaining anything has been a challenge in large part due to a lack of depth, La Russa said, which is partly a byproduct of the injuries to so many frontline players and partly to how the roster was constructed going into the season.

“I’m not saying it’s not there,” La Russa said Monday. “When the depth is productive, it’s real depth.”

And when it’s not the Sox are thin.

“The best streaks are when the starting pitchers are pitching well and you don’t have too many where the bullpen gets worn out,” La Russa said. “And then there are days when the offense has to score some or a lot. Most of that has to do with how deep your lineup is.”

To steal the phrase general manager Rick Hahn christened their rebuild with, the Sox have been mired in mediocrity in April, May and June.

They will have to emerge from it in July, August and September if there is to be an October, once thought to be – but no more by any means – a foregone conclusion.

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