Sox start second half of title chase: ‘We’re not the hunted’ initially appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
One factor is definite on the South Facet:
The Chicago White Sox are on the hunt.
Who is aware of if will probably be a real second-half mantra, plastered on T-shirts and wedged into followers’ Twitter bios. However the White Sox, regardless of their first-place standing within the American League Central and regardless of their standing as a real championship contender, need to be aggressive now that the All-Star break is historical past and there is simply two and a half months remaining within the common season.
“I feel the largest perspective that we’ve got, and the fellows have voiced it, we’re not the hunted,” White Sox supervisor Tony La Russa stated earlier than his crew performed its first sport of the second half Friday. “We’re looking wins, and we’ll go on the market each collection and hunt wins.
“And if the opposite crew is looking wins, too, that is nice. They’re presupposed to be. However we’re not defending something. We’re aggressively offending attempting to get wins.”
You not often hear anybody say their group is attempting to be aggressively offensive, however La Russa’s not speaking about advertising right here. He is obtained a regulation diploma, bear in mind, not a sheepskin in public relations.
The South Facet skipper has been via this rodeo many instances earlier than, the three World Sequence rings on his fingers loads of proof that he is aware of what it takes to get to the promised land.
In hopes of including a fourth to his spectacular jewellery assortment, he is pointing the White Sox on this route, one which’s not all that shocking however was way back summed up by one other Oakland sports activities legend:
Simply win, child.
“It does not matter who we’re taking part in. The largest factor is getting as many wins (as doable) and separating ourselves within the division,” White Sox nearer Liam Hendriks stated. “You simply wish to be sure you do not lose the momentum you gained.
“We completed the primary half sturdy, and we wish to make certain we proceed that on.”
The White Sox put collectively a stellar first half, coming into the second half with the best profitable share within the AL and the largest division lead in baseball. And doing what they did in that first half another time is the last word, if apparent, key to being the place they wish to be when the common season shifts to the postseason.
“They perceive how we obtained right here. And all the things we did, we’ve got to do (once more),” La Russa stated. “Cannot take a day without any consideration, quite a lot of challenges forward. You retain bettering so that you get to October peaking.”
That is Hendriks’ No. 1 objective, too.
It was Hendriks and the Oakland Athletics who snuffed out the White Sox championship hopes final 12 months, a 2-1 collection win within the AL Wild Card Sequence ending off the South Siders’ 3-10 slide to wrap the pandemic-shortened 2020 marketing campaign. Hendriks did his factor, swearing and screaming and fist-pumping his option to the White Sox elimination.
Days in the past, he was doing that on a national stage as soon as extra, this time as an All-Star for the White Sox, who obtained him to modify sides with a $54 million free-agent deal final winter.
Whereas La Russa is kind of actually the “ring” grasp, there are different imports who know what it takes to make a playoff run and might help domesticate the “hunter, not hunted” mentality within the clubhouse.
“I do not care who we win towards. I do not care who it’s. I do not care if we beat up on the groups beneath .500, so long as we get sizzling towards the top of the season,” Hendriks stated. “That is all that issues.
“On the finish of the day, whether or not you win the division by one sport or 40 video games, it does not matter should you go into the playoffs on somewhat little bit of a chilly streak, as sadly occurred right here final 12 months.
“You wish to end the season sizzling so you’re taking that momentum into the playoffs.”
Followers and different observers, in fact, are much less prone to ascribe to the “one sport at a time” method that is helped the White Sox get thus far, and a collection to open the second half towards the AL West-leading Houston Astros will jog recollections of the four-game sweep the South Siders stumbled via final month, a collection La Russa referred to as one in all simply two unhealthy ones his crew performed throughout the first half.
“They uncovered us somewhat bit,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson stated. “Typically it is good to be uncovered, you do not know how worse you could be. You attempt to be higher. We’ve a greater sport plan. We’ll exit and play laborious and see what occurs.”
The White Sox run differential is one in all baseball’s highest. However their win whole towards groups with data north of .500 is without doubt one of the sport’s lowest.
Proper now, that is not precisely a harbinger of October doom. It is nonetheless July, in spite of everything, and the White Sox predict reinforcements. Eloy Jiménez is in the midst of a rehab task at Triple-A Charlotte, and Luis Robert won’t be too far behind. Then there’s the commerce deadline, the place common supervisor Rick Hahn has promised to be aggressive in pursuing upgrades and additions, intent to not waste what he referred to as a “sacred” probability to win the entire thing.
There’s that phrase once more. Aggressive. A sign that, sure, the White Sox are certainly on the hunt.
“Anyone stated that the White Sox needed to show they may play within the canine days,” La Russa stated. “I am a canine and cat lover.
“One of the best time of the 12 months is taking part in in August and September when you’ve got an opportunity for October. The worst time is taking part in when you do not have an opportunity.
“So the message is, ‘We have earned this pleasure, it is an edge for us. We will play for one thing. The adrenaline might be pumping. Simply perceive how we obtained right here and what we’ve got to do.'”