As players go down, Sox just getting started

Chicago snags series 'W' from Minnesota behind García, Lynn, Anderson

July 7th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- Imagine this scenario being laid out back in Spring Training for the White Sox, a team possessing serious 2021 championship aspirations.

No Eloy Jiménez from the start of the campaign due to injury. The same for Luis Robert since May 2, not to mention second baseman Nick Madrigal done for the year after having surgery to repair a right hamstring tear and catcher Yasmani Grandal undergoing surgery on Tuesday for a torn tendon in his left knee.

The outlook would have not been especially hopeful, even from the most optimistic supporters.

Yet, the White Sox seem to get better with each moment of adversity. They finished off a series victory over the Twins with a 6-1 win on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field, improving to 51-35 overall and raising their American League Central lead to a season-best eight games over a quickly descending Cleveland squad.

Wednesday’s effort marked one of the more impressive wins of an impressive year for the White Sox, who made pretty much every play in the field and took every extra base successfully. They looked as if they were having fun playing baseball, as a first-place team should do.

“It says a lot about this organization. It says a lot about each and every one of our teammates,” said White Sox shortstop , who finished 4-for-4 with a walk in the victory. “We know they come to the ballpark ready to compete. We go out there and give it everything we got, and see what happens.”

“I haven't been here to see what they do in the Minor Leagues, but the guys come ready to play,” said , the starting and winning pitcher for the White Sox. “If you look at the prospects, they're high-end prospects. Wouldn’t be where they were if they weren't talented. They're getting them ready to play when they get here.”

Lynn allowed one run on four hits over six innings, striking out six and walking three in improving to 9-3. He lowered his ERA to 1.99, putting him in contention with teammate Carlos Rodón for the American League All-Star starting nod Tuesday in Colorado.

Pitching has been the backbone of the White Sox success, with Ryan Burr, Codi Heuer, Garrett Crochet and José Ruiz combining to allow two hits over three scoreless innings in relief. But let’s revisit Lynn’s theory on young players being ready to play, with manager Tony La Russa adding that the White Sox 10th win in 12 games over the Twins and fourth in six games at Target Field was a tribute to the entire roster.

Seby Zavala, who replaced Grandal, earned praise from Lynn for his work behind the plate in his first start.

“I don’t think we worked together in Spring Training, maybe a bullpen,” Lynn said. “But he was on top of things, knew exactly what I like to do, how I like to do it and we had no issues.”

“I've always wanted to be the best I can for the pitcher,” said Zavala before the victory. “Do my preparation work, make sure I cross all my Ts, dot all my Is, make sure I do everything I can to make sure the pitcher's successful that day. It didn't happen overnight, but definitely little by little I gained a little bit of knowledge from talking to other catchers.”

Rookie Jake Burger, who has been with the team since last Friday in Detroit, singled, doubled and picked up his first career RBI while making two standout plays at third base. added three hits and three RBIs, raising his season RBI total to 37, while falling a double short of hitting for the cycle.

“He's a really good player,” said La Russa of García. “He's a complete defensive player, he's above average everywhere and he can hit from both sides. The pressure, he embraces it. He should never be an unsung hero, because you guys have seen him a lot, he's very important to this club.”

All of those injured players mentioned above, besides Madrigal, are expected back in the season’s second half. So being a very good team in a division with no other squad above .500 appears to just be the beginning for the White Sox in 2021.