NEW YORK — If the White Sox beat the Yankees Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, they would have a 4-0 record in June. What's more, they will have their first four-match winning streak of the season.
Is this too much to expect from a team whose expectations have been repeatedly dashed since the fall of 2021? Is it too much to ask manager Pedro Grifol?
From a team that went 8-21 in March and April, 14-15 in May with a 10-20 away record, that seems like a lot. But that would be an incredible fine – dare we say it's necessary? – a way for the Sox to kick off the toughest month of their schedule.
At 26-35, the Sox are in survival mode, treading water and trying to defend something – anything – to give fans who have watched the team go 133-137 (plus 1-3 in the 2021 postseason) since walk-off homer Tim Anderson against Yankees at Field of Dreams game in August 2021, reason to get engaged again. Winning and losing trades will make it easier for the front office to decide what to do as the trading deadline approaches. Winning a series in June against a team with a winning record might make this team look like it's worth holding on to.
And brace yourself for series against the Yankees (36-25), Marlins (32-28 through Sunday), Dodgers (35-25), Mariners (29-30 through Sunday), Rangers (38-20), Red Sox (30 -29 through Sunday) and the Angels (31-30) in June. Eleven of those games were on the west coast.
Maybe the Sox learned from their springtime folly. If you see them swinging fewer bad pitches and batting less, you can probably believe it.
“We are going through something that will be educational for us in the future,” Grifol said last weekend. We never want to go through this, but we will get through it. It is what it is. We just had to learn from him and continue to make sure we have the awareness to be able to stop him in the way.
The Sox are in the process of sweeping a three-game series away from the weak AL Central Tigers while Grifol has his say. Grifol sees no need to focus on the prize that is AL Central, where the lead Twins are 31-29 and the others are under . 500. He's a manager one game at a time, he says, but he says there's no point thinking about the postseason until the Sox hit . 500.
Grifol likes to see some little things help the team win, like Yoan Moncada reading at third base and not trying to score on a ground ball in a draw. Moncada's judgment paid off when a wild shot allowed him to score Saturday's win.
The obvious things for all to see were the bullpen which saw Kendall Graveman and Keynan Middleton ride a scoreless 13 games with Liam Hendriks rounding back to form in his comeback from cancer, as well as a starting rotation with a 3.53 ERA in the last 23 games. And the team is healthy.
The Sox “continue to develop as a team” under Grifol, the rookie manager.
So this crucial stretch kicks off Tuesday night, and it's the Sox who may be on the good side of injury luck with everyday Yankees megastar slugger Aaron Judge with a sore toe from hitting the court wall.
Typically, this would be a month for the Sox to try and play . 500 baseball. Because of the hole they dug for themselves they need to show they are not as bad as they seem by having a good month against good teams keeping in mind the all-important September schedule starting with 16 games against the other teams. Weak AL Central. The Sox finished the season with the Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Padres.
We'll see what they're made of, and soon.