KANSAS CITY — A .500 record through 38 games isn’t exactly a cause for a major White Sox celebration.
Not for a team currently sitting three games back from Minnesota and in second place in the American League Central. More importantly, not for a team with World Series aspirations.
But prior to a 7-4 victory over the Royals Thursday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, manager Tony La Russa explained choppy waters are not unusual to navigate on the way to success. The best also could be yet to come, according to La Russa.
“This script hasn’t been written,” La Russa said. “We’re in charge of writing it ourselves to the extent that we can improve and play the best baseball we can.”
La Russa has a long history in the game to back up this theory. He’s been to the playoffs 15 times as a manager and on Thursday he mentioned how just two of those 15 went relatively smooth and another two of them had just a few bumps.
“So that left 11, where, if you look at the season, there were all kinds of adversities and obstacles and, ‘Oh man, what’s going to happen,’” La Russa said. “So, the team has to tough it out, the coaches, the manager.”
Thursday’s effort looked more like the way La Russa and the White Sox would like the script to turn out. At the very least, this victory was worth a page in one of the chapters.
They not only knocked out 14 hits but scored their most runs on the road since April 10 in Detroit, erasing a 4-1 deficit after three. Tim Anderson, as usual, was the igniter, and Luis Robert was right there with him.
Anderson finished with two walks, two hits, two stolen bases and two RBIs, marking the first time in his career where the shortstop had two walks and two stolen bases in the same game. He now sits two stolen bases and five home runs away from 100 for his career, although he doesn’t care at all about the individual numbers.
“Yeah, just really trying to beat you at all angles,” Anderson said following his 10th multi-hit performance in the last 18 games. “Being able to play both sides of the ball and giving us a chance to win and giving others a chance to get RBIs and get bags and whatever the case is. Just putting us in the best position to be successful.”
“You want to explain his all-around game?” said a smiling La Russa. “We got behind early and he sparked us. He’s very special, as special as our fans think he is. People around the country know it. He deserves it.”
Robert had three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run homer in the eighth to give the White Sox a comfortable three-run advantage, while Adam Engel’s pinch-hit single in the seventh broke a 4-4 deadlock. Engel’s comments on his own offense actually could be representative of the entire team’s present outlook at the plate, in that he feels good but is still waiting to get hot.
“We’re putting ourselves in position to have big innings,” Engel said. “We’ve been maybe one hit away and unfortunately that’s baseball and I think we are right on the cusp of starting to break through here. We have the offense to do it. Now we just have to capitalize.”
Capitalize they did, by picking up their third win in this rare five-game series against the Royals. They needed 10 innings on Monday to score five, and then put across 3, 1 and 2 runs, respectively, in posting a 1-2 record over their last three.
Scoring seven runs seems to be more commensurate with what this talented group truly is able to do. But that script is far from finished. The plot line and ultimate payoff is really up to the White Sox.
“We just take it day by day. We really try not to pay too much attention to too much stuff,” Anderson said. “Just take it day by day and try to get wins. Just go out and play hard and see what happens.”
“I think we are going to be good,” Robert said through interpreter Billy Russo. “We are pretty close to being the team that we all know that we can be. Every team has some struggles. But right now, I think we are pretty close to being that good team.”