Let’s face it, the White Sox have been a tough watch.
For ownership, upper management, broadcasters and fans, a team slogging along below .500 for the first two months of a season that was supposed to be better than this hasn’t been easy on the eyes.
General manager Rick Hahn has seen the same things.
“I throw stuff,” Hahn said Tuesday before the Sox opened a three-game series against the Dodgers with a 4-0 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I’ve been walking a lot. I leave the house when I’m not with the team. “[During home games] I walk in the tunnels a lot.”
Hahn probably threw stuff when Reese McGuire (looking) and Josh Harrison (swinging) struck out with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning against Mitch White (five innings, two hits allowed) making the Sox 4-for-39 with 14 strikeouts with the bases loaded.
Fans watching at home may have done the same. Some among the crowd of 25,625 booed. Seeing Michael Kopech pitch a masterful six innings of one-hit, scoreless ball with eight strikeouts and one walk made the offensive futility particularly frustrating.
But that’s the way it’s been this season. Too much of that and not enough of what the Sox did in the sixth against relievers Phil Bickford and David Price — a four-run burst featuring former Dodger AJ Pollock’s pinch two-run double on Price’s first pitch that broke a scoreless tie. Pollock’s double was followed by red-hot Jake Burger’s RBI double and an RBI single by McGuire.
Everyone was happy.
The Sox are in their thick of their contention window and are coming off a second straight year in the postseason but haven’t looked like a team that will be a threat in the playoffs — if they make it. They needed to beat the Dodgers (35-19 through Monday) to get within a game of .500.
“Those closest to me will attest that, yes, my patience has been tested,” Hahn said. “But that makes me no different from any White Sox fan or ardent follower of this club. We’ve all been tested over the last few months here.”
Hahn is also optimistic, knowing Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly will heal from injuries and bolster the roster before long and trusting, from conversations and meetings with staff, that underperforming healthy players like Yasmani Grandal and Yoan Moncada et al will get “out of their ruts.”
“The reasons for optimism are legitimate and make me feel better,” he said, enough “to give it a little longer, perhaps, before my patience runs out.
“All of us — whether it’s Jerry [Reinsdorf], Kenny [Williams], myself, the coaches, any White Sox fan — we’ve all had our patience tested. But the fundamentals of who this team is remain. We’re fortunate that baseball is a long season, and over the course of a long season, things tend to play out the way the talent permits. And we feel good about this talent.”
Which includes Kopech, who was on top of his game again after giving up five runs over three innings in his start in Toronto. Kopech had his third one-hit performance of his last four outings, the other two against the Yankees.
Kopech knocked his ERA down to 1.94. The only hit was delivered by Will Smith with two outs in the fourth.
Even with three games against the Dodgers this week, the Sox have the easiest remaining strength of schedule in the majors, with an opponents .473 winning percentage.
Hahn cited the Sox’ 11-8 record against the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox, and they were in a good position to beat a very good Dodgers team after taking two straight from the Rays.