DETROIT -- The White Sox would like to bottle their results from a 10-1 shellacking of the Tigers on Friday night at Comerica Park and break them back out again sometime in September 2020.
In reality, having that same sort of production from Opening Day moving forward would be preferable next season. But one year from now, the White Sox are hoping to be succeeding at a clip that will put them in playoff contention as opposed to a series this weekend featuring two teams a combined 83 games under .500.
So, let’s call Chicago's second straight victory overall -- improving its record within the American League Central to 33-34 -- a blueprint for progression. Every major component of the ongoing White Sox rebuild succeeded in the series opener in Detroit and succeeded in a big way.
Eloy Jiménez hit his second career grand slam and his second grand slam of September, completing a five-run fourth off of Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann. Jiménez has hit in 11 straight and finished a double away from the cycle, a feat he shook his head to, smiled and said, “Next question, please,” when asked if he knew about coming so close.
“It’s been good. I’m feeling really good. I feel really comfortable at the plate and I’m seeing the ball good,” Jiménez said. “It’s really good this [whole] thing right now is part of what is coming.”
“I hope that any time we go out and play a decent ballgame it's a foreshadowing of what we want to be,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “That will ultimately be the goal and we want it to start occurring sooner rather than later.”
“It’s very exciting, especially to have worked my way up from the Minors to see all the talent,” White Sox starting and winning pitcher Dylan Cease said. “It’s definitely easy to dream on this team.”
He was happy with Friday’s performance, just as he’s been more than satisfied with the individual big league learning process, despite featuring a 5.79 ERA after improving to 4-7.
“I feel not even close to the same pitcher I was when I first got called up,” said Cease, who is expected to make his 15th and final start of the 2019 season at home during the season’s final week. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I feel good with where my stuff is.
“My fastball is not cutting as much. I’m commanding stuff better. My offspeed has good shape. I’m throwing them for strikes. I’m happy with where my feel is.”
For the second time in three games, every White Sox starter had a hit. And Jiménez’s grand slam was the White Sox ninth of the season, marking their third-highest single-season total in franchise history. Daniel Palka produced his first multi-hit game this season -- with three knocks -- raising his 2019 totals to 5-for-69 at the plate. And Yolmer Sánchez, who moved into the leadoff spot, had his first career four-hit performance.
Sure, it all came against a team with a 45-108 record and a starting pitcher with a 1-12 mark and 6.85 ERA, but it’s still another building block toward ‘20.
“Ultimately, you don't want just individual successes,” Renteria said. “You want a team success, you want everybody to be contributing in some way, shape or form and I think our guys are learning to kind of feed off each other.”