CHICAGO -- A White Sox team sitting 27 games under .500 and all but officially eliminated from any 2018 playoff contention completed a season series victory over the best team in baseball with an 8-0 shutdown of the Red Sox before 30,745 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday.
But this is a different-looking White Sox squad than the one that was on display for much of the season. Sunday's victory improved their record to 7-3 in the past 10 games, 13-6 in the past 19 and 18-12 over the past 30. It's a young crew as part of the rebuild that's showing progress on an almost daily basis, improving to 22-20 in the second half.
"We are good, despite what the record is," said White Sox left fielder Daniel Palka of his 55-82 squad. "We are playing our best right now."
"It just shows what kind of a team this team's going to be over the next couple years," said White Sox starting pitcher James Shields, who recorded his 17th quality start of the season in Sunday's victory. "Our starting pitching, for the most part, did really well this series, and if we can continue that -- and our hitters, their approach has been great over the last three to four weeks. We're going to try to finish strong here and build off of it for next year."
The whitewash came on Hawk Harrelson Day, honoring the iconic television voice of the White Sox who is in his 33rd and final season in the booth. And in tribute to Harrelson, the White Sox hitters knocked out 15 hits and put it on the board a number of times.
Tim Anderson homered in the first off of Christopher Johnson, giving Anderson a new single-season high of 18 home runs. He added two doubles, one of five players with multi-hit efforts. Palka also went deep in the fourth on a full-count offering from William Cuevas, four pitches after Palka apparently homered on a 1-0 pitch. Palka's original blast, which was clearly foul, was overturned quickly by the umpires, giving him a second chance.
• Palka homers twice in one AB, but only one counts
All of this support came behind an exceptional pitching performance from Shields, who improved to 6-15. Shields hurled six strong innings, striking out six and walking two while allowing four hits, getting to the mound about 40 minutes later than scheduled after the Hawk celebration.
"I'm happy for Hawk. He deserves every bit of it, and it looked like he was enjoying the moment out there," Shields said. "I played against him for all those years, and playing for the White Sox, it's a tremendous honor to have that guy announce your name on a daily basis."
"We played a heckuva ballgame and Shields threw a heckuva game," Anderson said. "Just overall, a real good day."
The White Sox earned a split in the four-game series against the Red Sox, giving Chicago the 4-3 edge over Boston this season after taking two of three at Fenway Park from June 8-10. They have a 5-0-1 record in series since Aug. 13, if one factors Chicago's two wins in three games against Minnesota during that time as one series even though one of the games was played at Target Field.
"A lot of good things are happening," Anderson said. "Hopefully we can keep it up for the future and keep playing and keep having fun going out there and seeing what happens."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Quite a debut: Left-hander Caleb Frare, acquired this season via trade from the Yankees, made his Major League debut in style. He retired the side in order on 10 pitches in the seventh, striking out Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the frame. Frare topped out at 96.4 mph, per Statcast™.
"It was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be. I feel truly blessed to have that opportunity. It was a lot of fun," Frare said. "They called down to the bullpen and said, 'Frare, you're going to be in the game.' I'm smiling, I'm happy and they're like, 'All right, you've got a job to do.' I got loose, and the Red Sox guy got hurt or he got pulled out of the game, so I had plenty of time to warm up.
"And then I'm like, 'You're about to make your Major League debut. This is it.' I almost teared up in the bullpen and once I got out there, I looked around and was like, 'This is a big stadium.' And then I got the first ground ball and was like 'All right, you can do this. You've done this before.' I mean, I've never pitched on a Major League mound before, but I felt like the game was no different once I got that first out."
Frare received the baseball from his first out and from his first strikeout. He had his fiancee, mom, dad, both grandmas, grandpa and uncle in attendance.
Yolmer Sanchez has reached base in a career-best 21 straight games and has hit safely in 18 of those contests.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, whom Harrelson considers similar to a son, joined Harrelson as guest analyst during a highly entertaining broadcast Sunday. Pierzynski also made a one-handed grab of a foul ball in the booth and gave the ball to a young fan.
HE SAID IT
"These guys are fantastic. I've been here for two days, but I feel like I fit right in. They've done a fantastic job of that, making me feel like a part of the team."-- Frare, on quick adjustments to life with the White Sox
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (5-9, 4.51 ERA) is scheduled to make his 28th start of the season and 13th at Guaranteed Rate Field in a Labor Day matinee against the Tigers at 1:10 p.m. CT. Michael Fulmer (3-10, 4.71) gets the start for Detroit. Lopez has received a no-decision in five of his past six starts and has not earned a home win since June 26 vs. Minnesota.