After winning five games in a row to get five games above .500 on Aug. 16, the White Sox lost 10 of 12 games, dropping six games behind the American League Central leading Guardians.
It has felt for days like the Sox (64-66) are out of the race. But if they want to suggest otherwise, stopping a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Royals and starting a needed hot streak would help.
“The amount of talent in this clubhouse is unbelievable,” said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who hit one of two Sox homers. “Probably one of the most talented teams I’ve been on in my career, and it only takes a nice winning streak to get back in the race. Everybody knows that we’ve still got 30 more games so there’s no reason to panic. But it’s a great time to stay together and go out there and do our thing.”
Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.70 ERA) did his thing, retiring the first 10 Royals he faced and pitching seven innings of one-run ball. Coupled with a Guardians loss, the Sox trimmed their gap behind Cleveland to five heading into September.
Bobby Witt Jr.’s homer in the fourth snapped Lynn’s streak of 10 Royals down to start the game. Two singles and a hit batsman loaded the bases for Hunter Dozier, who rapped into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Sox hit multiple homers for the second night in a row after going 13 straight games without multiple dingers. AJ Pollock homered against lefty Kris Bubic leading off the fourth. Andrus, batting first in acting manager Miguel Cairo’s lineup, hit his first homer in a Sox uniform in the fifth. The Sox pinned two runs on lefty Amir Garrett in the seventh, one of them on Jose Abreu’s two-out single.
Kendall Graveman pitched a perfect eighth and Liam Hendriks allowed a run in the ninth.
“Until that last out, you cannot feel comfortable,” said Cairo, who managed a 9-7 loss to the Royals (53-78) Tuesday. “Today that’s the feeling. Big deep breath, and let it go and do it again tomorrow.”
Cairo goes with his gut
Cairo said he manages with his “gut” more than metrics.
“I watch the game, I watch the scoreboard, that tells you everything,” he said.
Handling the pitching is “the hardest part,” Cairo, 48, said, but he will rely heavily on pitching coach Ethan Katz and bullpen coach Curt Hasler. He also has former manager Jerry Narron nearby.
“So it’s going to be teamwork and we’ve got to do it for Tony,” Cairo said.
Lynn was removed from the Bereavement List before the game, and catcher Yasmani Grandal returned his injury (left knee) rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte. Grandal walked twice. Left-hander Tanner Banks and catcher Carlos P?rez were optioned to Charlotte.
This and that
Center fielder Luis Robert missed a fifth straight start due to a sore left wrist but was a defensive replacement in the ninth inning.
*Second baseman Romy Gonzalez had two singles and made a leaping catch on a Nicky Lopez liner in the eighth.
*The Sept. 14 home game against the Rockies was changed from a 7:10 p.m. start to 1:10 p.m. start. The Sox play one makeup afternoon game in Cleveland the next day.
*Minor league right-hander Taylor Broadway was sent to the Red Sox to complete the Jake Diekman trade.
*The Sox’ Cactus League spring training opener is Feb. 25 against the Padres at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. Spring training concludes with two games against the Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., March 27-28. The Sox play the Cubs four times.