White Sox doing some serious winning
A.J. Pierzynski watches the flight of his 2-run, pinch-hit home run Sunday to put the White Sox in front. Pierzynski has hit a home run in five consecutive games.
The White Sox haven't clinched anything yet, not even close.
And they are not printing any playoff tickets. It's still way too early for that.
But for the first time there is an air about the Sox.
And it was definitely feeling a little like October in the postgame clubhouse after the White Sox beat a good Los Angeles Angels team 4-2 Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field while taking two of three in the series.
The Sox know there still are plenty of challenges left on the schedule, including six games against the second-place Detroit Tigers.
But if they continue to play their game, the White Sox are expecting to reach the playoffs.
"You would hope so," manager Robin Ventura said. "But again, focus on tomorrow and worry about tomorrow. Don't think too far down the road. Just continue to play.
"I think that's the strength that we have, guys are focused on day-to-day stuff instead of trying to decide what this means or what every out means.
"Just play. Just play the game and wherever you end up you're going to end up. If you play it right, hopefully you end up in the playoffs."
The playoffs are a very realistic goal because the Sox have few glaring holes.
Francisco Liriano has been a great addition to the starting rotation, and the left-hander is expected to make his next start after exiting Sunday's home debut after 5 innings.
Liriano, who allowed 1 run on 4 hits, suffered a right-quad contusion after being hit by Macier Izturis' shot up the middle leading off the fifth. He made it through the rest of the inning but couldn't come back out for the sixth.
"I was really sore and cramping a little bit," said Liriano, who has allowed 3 earned runs in 11 innings in his first 2 starts with the White Sox.
"I think I'll be OK for my next start. I was disappointed, but at the same time things happen during the game. I'm just really happy to be able to give the team a chance to win a ballgame."
The Sox have won nine of their last 12 because they are getting good enough starting pitching, solid work out of the bullpen (especially from newcomer Brett Myers) and some of the best defensive play in baseball.
In a sure sign they are ready to make an extended postseason push, pitching coach Don Cooper said the Sox are going back to a five-man rotation during his radio show Sunday night on the Score.
Cooper said Philip Humber is going to be moved to the bullpen.
As for the offense, the White Sox are a power-hitting team, and they continued to flex their muscle Sunday.
Kevin Youkilis homered for the third time in the last two games to make it a 1-1 game in the sixth inning. In the seventh, pinch hitter A.J. Pierzynski put the Sox in front 3-2 with a 2-run shot.
Pierzynski tied Paul Konerko's franchise record by homering in five straight games.
"The guys that are supposed to do that, Konerko and Dunner (Adam Dunn), they were making fun of me and calling me a home run hitter," said Pierzynski, who has 21 homers. "I'm not supposed to be doing this, so just ride it out as long as you can, enjoy it and have fun with it."
The White Sox have been having a lot of fun, but they are serious playoff contenders.
"Mainly, it's just go hard every day and see where we end up after 162 (games) and try to keep our head down like it's been," Konerko said. "Hopefully after 162 that puts us where we want to be.
"But anytime we pick our heads up and look around or try to enjoy it or say, 'Hey, we're doing really well,' that's usually when you lose two out of three or get swept. So let's just try to keep the blinders on and keep playing."
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