'It's fun to win': White Sox take 2nd straight with 'complete' baseball

June 9th, 2024

CHICAGO -- Things weren’t going very well for the White Sox.

Actually, they were a quite painful and single-season franchise record 14-game losing streak-bad for the South Siders only two days ago.

That overall outlook for this tight-knit team has picked up a bit in a mere 48 hours with the White Sox claiming a 6-1 win over the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field for their second straight victory. These two straight mark the first back-to-back successes for manager Pedro Grifol’s crew since May 14-15 at home against Washington.

“The biggest thing is you don’t have to press as much when the ball is rolling the right direction, when you’re winning,” said White Sox reliever Tanner Banks, who earned the victory Saturday. “In anything in life, how much easier is it when you can take a breath and relax and play your game or do your job the way that you intended to do it?”

“Complete baseball the last two games,” designated hitter said. “[Our team] threw the ball really well. Timely hitting. Yeah, getting wins is always fun.”

Sheets became a major victory force with one swing of the bat in the fifth. The White Sox entered the bottom half of the frame trailing, 1-0, but sent 11 men to the plate during a five-run rally against Boston starter Brayan Bello (6-3).

Seven consecutive White Sox hitters reached base after two were out, with Sheets connecting on a 0-1 hanging changeup for the first grand slam of his career. His seventh home run this season followed Andrew Vaughn’s game-tying infield single.

“Just trying to be aggressive,” Sheets said. “Obviously, nowhere to put me with the bases loaded, and just trying to be aggressive with something in-zone.

“With the bases loaded and two outs you're just trying to give us the lead somehow. Obviously, with a guy like Bello you want to get it in the air with all the sink he has, and I was able to do it out there. It's exciting. Yeah, it was a big moment, so it was fun.”

Paul DeJong’s 11th home run in the seventh completed the scoring, and closer Michael Kopech was able to escape unscathed from a 33-pitch ninth with two strikeouts. Rookie Nick Nastrini started and finished with a no-decision, avoiding the dubious honor of becoming the first White Sox hurler in franchise history to lose the first six starts of his career.

Nastrini threw only 42 of his career-high 87 pitches for strikes in 4 1/3 innings, but five strikeouts managed to offset the five walks. He held the Red Sox (32-33) hitless for four innings before giving up Bobby Dalbec’s leadoff home run in the fifth, but Nastrini was the definition of minimizing the damage.

“I was a little out of the zone, but I made pitches when I needed to,” Nastrini said. “Second inning, [runners at] first and second, no outs, and I got out of that unscathed. I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job of late putting myself into bad situations, but also getting out of it. Not exactly what you want to do, but at the end of the day, I held them to one run.”

“Even though he had his five walks, I thought he pitched well,” said Grifol of Nastrini, who had 10 of his 15 swings and misses off the slider, per Statcast. “He was in control, he was able to slow the game down, he made some really good pitches when he needed to. He mixed in all his pitches.”

Sunday’s series finale gives the White Sox a chance to record their first series victory since that same Washington series from May 14-15, before they embark on a seven-game road trip with a Major League-worst 5-26 record away from home. But Saturday’s postgame was all about enjoying another solid performance.

Music was playing in the clubhouse. Groups of players were talking around their lockers, and injured reliever Dominic Leone humorously joined the media during Sheets’ interview session.

“It's fun to win. It sucks to lose,” Grifol said. “That's just it, plain and simple.”

“We've got a really good group of guys in here, Strong clubhouse,” Sheets said. “It’s been like this since Spring Training, and there were two ways we could’ve gone. We could’ve broken during that streak or come closer together. Everybody in here has gone through it together. We all support each other.”