DETROIT -- The date on the calendar reads April 29, and 141 games remain on the White Sox schedule.But by virtue of their 7-3 victory over the Tigers Friday night at Comerica Park, the White Sox sit alone atop the American League Central standings.Their 12-9 mark doesn't exactly have them
DETROIT -- The date on the calendar reads April 29, and 141 games remain on the White Sox schedule.
But by virtue of their 7-3 victory over the Tigers Friday night at Comerica Park, the White Sox sit alone atop the American League Central standings.
Their 12-9 mark doesn't exactly have them on pace to shatter single-season win totals, but their fifth straight victory over division opponents certainly supports a swagger or attitude developed in Spring Training. This group believes it's something more than a bridge in the rebuilding process.
"Heart, hustle, playing the game the right way," said White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier of his team after homering in the victory.
"Guys are just talking about how they pick each other up. That's their mentality. It's pretty consistent," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They are playing every game, every inning. They are not thinking too far ahead, taking it one game at a time."
Those words sound a bit cliché, but it has worked for the White Sox.
White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey, facing his previous employer from Detroit, gave up two runs in the first, but managed to induce a Jim Adduci double play with the bases loaded and one out to minimize the damage. Within three pitches to start the second, Frazier and Avisail Garcia launched back-to-back homers to tie the game.
When Matt Davidson hit into a 6-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth of a 3-3 tie, Geovany Soto picked him up with a two-out, two-run single.
And let's not forget the bullpen, with Dan Jennings, Anthony Swarzak, Nate Jones and Tommy Kahnle striking out five and allowing one hit over 4 1/3 innings.
As a unit, the bullpen has a 1.83 ERA over 68 2/3 innings.
"It's been very consistent," Renteria said. "They've given us an opportunity every time we've used them, whomever it is we use in whatever situation.
"They have been very effective. Just very focused on doing what they need to do. Hopefully it continues."
Renteria knocked on wood at that point, just as he did when talking about the bullpen before the game. The bullpen or the pitching as a whole won't sustain this amazing early pace set.
White Sox fans also have seen this tale before, with the team racing out to a 23-10 start in '16 only to go 10-26 over their next 36 and drop from contention. But much like last year on April 28, two Chicago baseball teams sit in first place.
Only one of those two was expected to be in such a lofty spot, but the rebuilding White Sox seem to be responding to the lack of pressure and expectations by fighting for a common goal.
"We've got guys that play the game," Frazier said. "It doesn't matter who it is. We pick each other up."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.