By Barry Rozner
It's a clear indication of the quickly moving pages on the calendar that Paul Konerko's resistance is seriously low.
When the White Sox swept Texas at home in the first week of July, for example, Konerko was entirely immune to the discussion of October baseball, easily fighting off the virus that can become overconfidence.
Thinking ahead in baseball is a sickness, one that weakens a team over 162 games and eventually destroys its health.
In early July, Konerko wouldn't allow himself to consider the Sox among baseball's best, inoculating himself and insulating his mates.
But in late August with the days becoming shorter and the schedule's end coming into focus, Konerko knows a White Sox sweep of the Yankees -- after being swept by the Royals -- is impressive.
"We're a good team," Konerko said after the Sox defeated the Yankees 2-1 on the South Side on Wednesday night. "But there's a lot of good teams in the American League."
Konerko then smiled, knowing he'd dropped his guard just a hair.
"As good as we've played, Detroit hasn't gone anywhere and it's not like we have a big lead, so that keeps us in check," Konerko said. "But there's no doubt that when you play well against good teams, it definitely boosts your confidence."
The Sox should not lack in that department after Chris Sale (15-4) won for the third time in four games since getting an extended rest, and this time he had his early-season Sale brilliance, striking out 13 against a walk and 3 hits.
"There is no shame," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, "in getting beat by that guy."
Robin Ventura, who at times has had his strategy questioned, pulled a dominant Sale in a 1-run game after 109 pitches.
With two outs in the eighth and nobody on, but facing a smoking-hot Derek Jeter -- who had already homered off Sale in the sixth -- Ventura went to Brett Myers, who got Jeter to ground out before Addison Reed handled the meat of the New York lineup in the ninth.
"That's a major-league save right there," Ventura said. "Those guys coming up? That's a pretty good test, but we already knew that kid's not afraid of anything."
A Sox fan would have to take seriously Sale and Reed performing so well against players they grew up admiring, and seeing Alex Rios continue a tremendous year with another great play in right field and a game-winning home run.
"We had something to prove after last weekend in Kansas City," Rios said. "We've done this all year, bouncing back. It doesn't surprise us. We know what we can do."
Konerko has probably known it for awhile, but he's been extremely careful not to give it conscious thought, lest it distract from the daily task of winning games.
But even Konerko can't pretend after 123 games that he doesn't grasp the magnitude of what the Sox have accomplished.
"We've gotten here, to the point where every game matters and it doesn't really matter what team you're playing," Konerko said. "You're a game ahead or a game behind and you're fighting every day for your survival.
"There's no doubt we're at that point in the season that every day you gain a game in the standings, or every day you stay the same, is a great day."
So the White Sox had another great day Wednesday.
It must mean a little bit more when Paul Konerko is willing to admit it.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.