Friday begins a stretch of 17 games in as many days for the Chicago White Sox, who sit atop the American League Central and are vying for the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2008.
As the division rival Detroit Tigers visit Guaranteed Rate Field for a weekend series, the White Sox not only sense the urgency of the regular-season stretch run, they relish it.
“I want to win,” Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson told reporters. “You see the season has been going great. Obviously, we haven’t had a season like this since I got here. We need those 17 games. You best believe I will be ready for those 17 games.
“The biggest key is to be ready to play. We need every guy from top to bottom to be able to play and come out with a whole lot of energy, and hopefully we can click at all angles going into this stretch,” Anderson said.
“We’re trying to win this thing, trying to win the whole thing. Why not?” he added.
Chicago (27-16) has vaulted to the top of its division behind an AL-leading 74 home runs and a top-loaded pitching staff led by ace right-hander Lucas Giolito, who is set to oppose Tigers’ rookie right-hander Casey Mize on Friday.
Handling most of the sub-.500 teams on their schedule has boosted the White Sox, too. Chicago enters Friday with an 18-3 record against the Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Chicago enjoyed a day off Thursday following Wednesday’s 8-1 victory in Pittsburgh, a resounding response after blowing a late lead to the Pirates to lose 5-4 the night before.
White Sox catcher/designated hitter James McCann drilled a pair of home runs Wednesday, rookie right-hander Dane Dunning earned his first major league victory, and first baseman Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to a career-best 22 games.
“The talent is very good,” McCann said. “You’ve seen maturity from (Anderson), (Yoan) Moncada and Eloy (Jimenez) growing up, and you mix in the veteran guys, building that culture here, it’s a special thing to be a part of.”
Detroit (20-23) split a road doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, losing 12-2 before rallying for a 6-3 win.
First baseman Jeimer Candelario went a combined 5-for-6 with two home runs and five RBIs.
Mize, the top pick in the 2018 draft, will get his second crack at the White Sox on Friday after facing them in his major league debut at Guaranteed Rate Field on Aug. 19. Mize took a no-decision after spacing three runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.
The outing proved to be the longest yet for Mize (0-1, 6.75 ERA) in four starts. He pitched four innings and allowed three runs in a no-decision at Minnesota on Sunday and did not allow a home run in a start for the first time in his career.
Giolito (4-2, 3.29 ERA) will look to maintain his recent run of dominance at Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has pitched to a 1.71 ERA with 31 strikeouts over 21 innings in his past three starts.
Giolito is 5-2 with a 4.17 ERA in eight career starts against Detroit, including a victory this season. Facing the visiting Tigers on Aug. 20, Giolito earned the victory with seven shutout innings, scattering three hits, one walk and 13 strikeouts.
–Field Level Media