Gregor: Chicago White Sox suddenly thriving under pressure

The Chicago White Sox know their backs are up against the wall.

They know the July 31 nonwaiver deadline will soon arrive.

Many players on the 25-man roster know they could be wearing different uniforms next month if the losses continue to mount.

That is a lot of weight to be carrying, but the White Sox are responding surprisingly well to the pressure they placed upon themselves.

"I think we're aware of what's going on, but if we play better baseball like we should we should have the team here," center fielder Adam Eaton said after the Sox beat the Blue Jays 2-0 Thursday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. "I truly believe we have the talent to win in this clubhouse. I said that at the beginning of spring training and I still believe it. We're not even at the all-star break yet.

"We're halfway with games, but a couple doubleheaders later in the season there's no reason we can't play good enough baseball to get back into this thing. That's the goal, to play playoff baseball. We're going to continue to put the best out there and let the chips fall where they may."

With Jeff Samardzija leading the way Thursday, the White Sox were good enough to win for the seventh time in 9 games.

But they are still 39-44 and have to keep winning to climb over all the teams ahead of them in the race for the two wild-card spots.

If they stay hot against the Cubs at Wrigley Field this weekend and remain strong after the all-star break, maybe general manager Rick Hahn decides to keep the team together.

The problem is, there is no room for another losing streak.

The offense is still the big problem, but Samardzija (6-4) made 2 runs hold up Thursday with the sixth complete game of his career.

"Felt good out there," Samardzija said after scattering 4 hits against the highest scoring team in baseball. "Just pounding the zone, attacking the lineup. You can't take a pitch off. You just have to keep attacking them, and getting those 2 runs and the amazing defense behind me today helped out a lot.

"I'm really hitting that midseason form and feeling good, and my arm feels great and everything is coming around to where we want it."

If the Sox don't keep coming around, Samardzija might be the first one to go.

Before the game, Toronto manager John Gibbons raved about his skills and said the Jays would love to have the veteran right-hander.

So would the Pirates, Red Sox and many other teams that were scouting Samardzija Thursday.

"I'd hope they know what I am by now," said Samardzija, who has already been traded twice in the last year. "They have been scouting me for what, 2½ years now? I think they have the book on me. It's just going out and keep trying, especially for this team right now with where we're at. We need to keep playing well and hopefully let them know we're here and we need a whole year."

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) reacts to throwing a complete game during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Chicago, on Thursday, July 9, 2015. The White Sox won the game 2-0. Associated Press
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