Best in baseball? White Sox: It's too early

Walk-off win over Rays gives Chicago MLB's top record, but club has bigger goals

June 16th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The White Sox are the best team in baseball.

Their 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Rays on Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field gave them such an honor record-wise, moving the South Siders to a season-best 18 over at 43-25, with the Rays falling to 43-26.

• Box score

Just don’t try to tell the White Sox players or manager Tony La Russa that this contest on a perfect summer day had a playoff atmosphere or similar ramifications. Not when this team’s goals extend through the end of the real postseason.

“It doesn't say anything,” said White Sox designated hitter when asked about the meaning of this series victory over the previous best team in baseball. “The best team in baseball is the one that stands alone at the end of the season. And it's still a long season. We've just got to keep on playing."

“We talked about that before the first game of the series,” La Russa said. “It's so important to play the series you're playing. I mean, you cannot get more ready for one and less ready for the other. You'll regret it. You've just got to search for wins every time.”

Climbing to the top took a little more work than expected for the White Sox, who built 4-0 and 7-2 leads. Grandal’s 1-0 drive to right off Pete Fairbanks scored , who opened the 10th on second and moved to third on ’s grounder up the middle.

pitched a scoreless 10th in the same runner-on-second situation, making his contribution to the best record in the game.

“It's indescribable, to be honest,” said Burr of being part of the ‘21 White Sox. “Obviously I was here ‘18-’19 a little bit when things weren't going this way. So to be here when we're on a roll like this, it's pretty special for me."

“I left a few guys in scoring position today,” Grandal said. “So the fact that I was able to come through to walk it off was huge."

The White Sox were able to win thanks to starting pitching, of course, having the best starters’ ERA in the American League. , making his 100th career appearance and 98th career start, allowed three runs on four hits over six innings and 102 pitches while striking out seven and walking two. Giolito recorded 16 swings and misses, per Statcast, and nine on his changeup, along with retiring the first 10 hitters he faced.

They did it with the long ball supplied by Abreu, whose two-run home run in the fourth off Ryan Yarbrough sparked a four-run rally to break a scoreless tie. Abreu has 12 home runs and 51 RBIs on the season.

They did it at home, where their record improved to 27-12. They did it against a Rays squad with a 24-12 road ledger, as the White Sox have yet to lose back-to-back games at Guaranteed Rate Field this season.

They did it across the lineup, with catcher singling twice and driving in two, Vaughn doubling home a run among his three hits and knocking out two hits and scoring once at the top of the order. Anderson has 10 hits combined over four straight multihit games.

“It's not a 25- or 26-man roster. It's a 40-man roster,” Grandal said. “It takes all of us to be able to make it to where we want to go and reach our goals. You watch all the good teams, they all have guys who are coming off the bench and helping them win, and they're doing their job. If we keep it going, we're going to see a lot of success."

They did it against Yarbrough, raising their record to 18-4 when facing left-handed starters this season and 32-4 over the last two seasons. The White Sox did it without Yoán Moncada for the entire series due to a sinus infection. They did it without extending closer Liam Hendriks beyond one inning, and actually not using him at all Wednesday.

“This one here will be a keeper because of the contributions of the guys who had to play,” La Russa said. “That's special stuff and it was up and down the lineup.”

And they did it with so many more accomplishments ahead of them.

“Feels good. Feels good,” Giolito said. “Lance [Lynn] said it a couple of days ago. We weren’t going to come in here and treat this like a playoff series. But to take two from this team and have really, really good vibes going into our next series in Houston, another really quality team. It’s a good feeling. It’s a really, really fun win.”

“A team like Tampa Bay, they're so impressive with their nine-inning fight,” La Russa said. “But we have that in common with them.”