DETROIT -- Their best road trip of the season has created a growing sense of optimism in the White Sox clubhouse.
One day after Jose Abreu said he thinks they can still contend this season, the White Sox capped off a stellar business trip with a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon. Abreu and Adam Eaton both reached base five times for the White Sox, who took two of three from the Tigers and won five of seven on the road trip.
Winners in eight of 13 since the All-Star break, the White Sox had 16 hits, including three by Abreu. They improved to 53-56 with a six-game homestand against the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers starting on Friday.
“If we can get a good month I think we’re just crazy enough to try and make a push,” Eaton said. “I think everyone in here believes that and get good pitching, timely hitting and compete every pitch like we’ve discussed since spring training. We’re going to keep our steady approach day in and day out and not look too far ahead like we have all season.”
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Part of the team’s optimism stems from the reemergence of an offense that took off out of the gate and then disappeared in May when Eaton and Abreu went on the disabled list.
The White Sox scored 44 runs on the road trip, including 21 in three games against the Tigers.
They started early on Thursday with three second-inning runs against ex-Detroit starter Drew Smyly, who was traded to Tampa Bay later in the game as part of a deal that brought David Price to Motown.
Gordon Beckham doubled in a run and Tyler Flowers -- who has raised his average 31 points since July 9 -- singled in a run. Eaton, who had three hits, two runs and two RBIs, singled in another off Smyly to make it 3-0.
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The White Sox weren’t finished and that was a good thing considering starter John Danks didn’t have his best stuff.
Trailing 4-3 in the fourth inning, Paul Konerko doubled and scored on a two-out RBI single by Moises Sierra, who tied a career high with four hits.
Konerko, who also reached base three times, put the White Sox ahead 5-4 in the seventh inning when Joakim Soria hit him with the bases loaded to force in a run.
The White Sox added to their lead in the eighth inning against Joba Chamberlain, too.
Eaton singled in a run and Alexei Ramirez, who had two hits, doubled in another.
Normally the center of the offense, Abreu didn’t have any RBI chances as the Tigers walked him intentionally in the seventh and eighth innings with runners aboard. Abreu had earlier extended his career-long hitting streak to 20 games with a single off Smyly in the first inning. He also doubled twice.
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“It ended on a good note,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys swung the bat today, even early on putting pressure on. And you’ve got a guy like Moises swinging like he did, any time the bottom of your order is swinging like that you have a chance to score some runs.”
One aspect that was noticeably absent on the trip was the White Sox continually getting in their own way. They had hiccups like Sunday when reliever Ronald Belisario gave up three late runs in a 4-3 loss and suffered a blowout on Wednesday night, too.
But instead of being submarined by Danks’ rough outing on Thursday, the White Sox persevered.
Perhaps the most oft-mentioned name in White Sox trade rumors, Danks wasn’t very sharp. Given the 3-0 lead in the second inning, Danks nearly gave it all back right away. He hit a batter and walked two more to load the bases with no outs and needed a strikeout of Ian Kinsler with two aboard to preserve a 3-2 lead.
Detroit jumped ahead in the third inning as Torii Hunter and J.D. Martinez blasted solo homers off Danks with two outs.
Danks allowed four earned runs and seven hits over five innings. He walked four batters and hit another.
Belisario pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief and Javy Guerra struck out four over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Jacob Petricka earned his sixth save with a scoreless inning.
“It felt like I had decent fastball command,” Danks said. “I wasn’t able to throw anything else consistently where I wanted to for a strike. Obviously I don’t have the kind of fastball to just keep pumping them in there so it was a battle and certainly frustrating. But at the end of the day we got the win.”
On a day where general manager Rick Hahn neither added nor subtracted from the roster the end result was satisfying in the clubhouse. The White Sox like how they’ve managed to stay under the radar and are hopeful to get a boost from the returns of Matt Lindstrom and perhaps Avisail Garcia in August.
“We have been playing very well lately, we have some good pieces in place and everyone here is happy,” Eaton said. “Hopefully we can prove to (Hahn) that we made the right decision.”