Despite success, Sox don't think they've hit their stride

Despite success, Sox don't think they've hit their stride
May 27, 2013, 5:30 pm
Share This Post

It's been nearly two weeks since Robin Ventura put the White Sox to work with a pregame practice at Target Field. Since then, the Sox have won nine of 12 games -- although they don't think that run of success is the product of May 14's practice.

"I hope it's a coincidence, because you don't always want to do that," manager Robin Ventura said. "Those things happen and I think it could go one of two ways. You could either not care and let it go the other way, or you change it. And so far, they've changed it."

In their last dozen games, the White Sox have committed just four errors -- a major improvement after the team committed 29 errors in its first 36 games (advanced fielding stats back up the defensive improvement, too). 

The White Sox have scored 54 runs over the last 12 games and have won a few close contests, including back-to-back walk-off wins against Miami. The pitching has been good as well -- Sox starters entered Monday with the best ERA in the American League, while Jesse Crain hasn't allowed a run since April 12.

Still, the Sox don't feel as if they're playing their best baseball. 

"As of late, we've been playing better baseball, but it's still not what we're capable of playing," Adam Dunn said. "To me, that's the upside. I feel like we've played as bad as we could have possibly played for at least a month and a half and we're .500. That's a victory.

"We could have easily been 10 games out, at least," he added. "We let the Tigers last year hang around and you saw what happened when they got hot at the end. We just have to stay the course and get hot at the right time."

The four-game home-and-home format of the Crosstown Cup this year is a scheduling oddity, at least in that it's the first year this format has been implemented. But perhaps an even greater -- and far more significant -- quirk of the 2013 schedule is the White Sox don't play Detroit until July 9, the 88th game of their season. 

"Yeah, I haven't seen that too often," reliever Matt Thornton said. "But whatever, play everyone eventually. We get ours all in the second half, hopefully we're healthy and going in on a roll."

The Sox-Cubs series generally generates the most buzz during the season, but those 19 games against Detroit -- and, too, 14 against the Indians, who the Sox don't play for another month -- will be the ones that decide whether the Sox are legitimate contenders in the AL Central. 

For the Sox, there's no single indicator they're looking for that'll signal when they're playing their best baseball -- "It'll be obvious," Dunn said -- but for now the defensive improvements over the last dozen games have been the most encouraging trend. 

"You're either going to have to score 12 runs a game or you're gonna have to get better at pitching and defense," Ventura said. "For us, I just feel it's just a better brand of baseball when you're playing good defense and you're pitching and picking them up. And offensively, again, that's something that we go through hot streaks and cold streaks, but defensively I just see it more as that needs to stay constant."