A month ago, the White Sox kicked off the BP Crosstown Cup series on the North Side with a 18-21 record, 4 12 games behind first-place Cleveland. They hadn't won a series since sweeping Seattle April 20-22 and were coming off an odd two-day trip to Anaheim to play the Angels.
The Sox swept the Cubs, and after losing on May 22 to the Twins rattled off nine consecutive wins. By June 3, the Sox had a 2 12 game lead over Cleveland, and they haven't relinquished first place since.
But the Sox haven't held on to first place because of good play. They've dropped four consecutive series, salvaging lone victories against Toronto, Houston, St. Louis and Los Angeles to go 4-8 in their last dozen contests. The baseball has been a little better against the Cardinals and Dodgers, with the Sox losing four games against those clubs by a total of five runs.
The Cubs have baseball's worst record and third-worst run differential. But the Sox draw Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster in this three-game series against the untested Zach Stewart and struggling Gavin Floyd. Winning the series won't be easy, but perhaps doing so would act as a springboard going forward.
After the Cubs, the Sox welcome Milwaukee to town for the time since 2000. A seven-game swing to Minnesota and New York follows, and then the Sox host Texas and Toronto leading into the All-Star break. That's not an easy stretch, although the Sox pasted good teams in Cleveland and Tampa Bay to make up the meat of the nine-game winning streak.
A series win over the Cubs could jump-start a lagging team, or at the least, it could provide a nice cushion in case the Sox falter against such a difficult upcoming slate. The action starts tonight, and you can catch every game of the series on Comcast SportsNet.