By Jake Rill
BALTIMORE — The White Sox might be in last place in the American League Central and they might have entered Thursday winless in their last six games, but that doesn’t mean the team has been playing meaningless games.
Actually, the games are quite meaningful.
From Aug. 20 to Sept. 15, Chicago is in a stretch of 23 games out of 26 against teams with winning records. That includes this weekend’s series against the Orioles, beginning Thursday.
The White Sox aren’t entirely concerned with playing the spoiler role, though. They’re just trying to win.
“You’re just playing,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I see it they’re looking more for next year and what it means for them also. There’s no extra incentive that you’re a spoiler, but I think we do have some guys that are looking towards next year and trying to do something to either get noticed or send a positive note out there.”
Even though the club isn’t trying any differently against better teams, it has had some success against some top playoff contenders. The White Sox are a combined 13-11 this season against the Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees and Rangers.
And six of those losses were in the last six games, as the White Sox are coming off the losing end of back-to-back three-game sweeps in Boston and New York.
The White Sox also still have six games against the Tigers and Indians, another pair of possible playoff teams.
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Third baseman Gordon Beckham said improvement is the team’s sole focus this late in the season.
“We’re just trying to get better as a team,” Beckham said. “If we win some games that we’re not supposed to, then that’s a plus. That’s a cherry on top.”
And the fact that the Orioles are on the edge of a playoff spot and a series loss against the White Sox could mean the demise of their postseason hopes? Also not that important.
“I don’t think we’re looking at (it) like that,” Beckham said. “I didn’t even know where Baltimore was in the standings, so I think that for us, it’s just go out there and play and try to win games.”
White Sox catcher Bryan Anderson was in the starting lineup Thursday, his first start in a Sox uniform after having his contract selected prior to Sunday’s game.
Anderson made his Sox debut Monday as a defensive replacement but did not have a plate appearance. The 26-year-old was hitting ninth Thursday.
“We’re going to get some guys in there,” Ventura said. “We’re going to get Anderson in there and see what he can do. I think it’s just a good opportunity for him.”
Anderson’s start ended a stretch of nine straight games started behind the plate by 25-year-old Josh Phegley. Ventura said Phegley has been solid but still has a few things he can work on to get better, including working on avoiding passed balls.
“I think being up here, we’ve got the guys that are going to be able to help him with that,” Ventura said. “As far as calling games, he’s been doing fine. Hitting-wise, you’re going to go through the frustrations of hitting well, not hitting that well, but again this guy’s coming up and on a daily basis he’s seeing much better pitching than he’s seen before.”
In other White Sox catching news, Tyler Flowers had exploratory surgery on his right shoulder Thursday at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
It is expected to take two to three months for Flowers to recover, White Sox officials said.