Sweep should give Sox some confidence

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
6:08
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox had shown as much consistency over the last month as the city’s weather prior to arriving to Wrigley Field for the weekend showdown.

They won. They lost. Their starters pitched great. Their starters pitched awful. Their bullpen was unhittable and then very hittable. Their lineup followed the same trend and was productive on some days and non-existent on others.

Leading up to Friday, the White Sox had been winless in their previous eight series. They lost five of those series and split three others, and they were 9-15 overall in games during that stretch. The last series they won was a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners from April 20-22.

And then, they welcomed themselves to the Friendly Confines.

While the Cubs said goodbye to Kerry Wood in his retirement and dissipated any small hope for this season, the White Sox soared in the opposite direction. They celebrated three consecutive wins over their North Side rival, finishing with a 6-0 victory on Sunday, and swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field for the first time since 1999. They also returned to .500 for the first time since May 2 and moved within 2 games of first place in the American League Central.

[+] EnlargeGordon Beckham
Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesGordon Beckham homered in the fourth inning Sunday to give the Sox the lead.
All in all, there was plenty for the White Sox to feel good about as they head back to the South Side for six consecutive home games.

“Obviously interleague is a kind of a cool change of pace for everyone, especially with a rivalry with the Cubs,” said White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, who homered on Sunday. “It adds a little extra incentive. For us to go out and play well three games is kind of icing on the cake.”

The White Sox nearly had every component clicking in the three wins.

  • Starting pitching: Phil Humber, John Danks and Jake Peavy combined to allow 11 hits and two runs in 19 innings in the series.

  • Relief pitching: Outside of Zach Stewart allowing four hits and four runs on Saturday, the bullpen gave up six hits and no runs in seven innings.

  • Defense: The White Sox committed one error in the three games.

  • Top of the lineup: Leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza and No. 2 hitter Gordon Beckham both came through for the White Sox. De Aza had two hits on Saturday and Sunday. Beckham had four hits, including two home runs, in the series.

  • The middle of the lineup: Dunn continued to be a menace at Wrigley Field. He hit two more home runs in the park and upped his career number to 27 at Wrigley Field. He also walked six times. Dayan Viciedo also remained hot. He had four hits, including a home run, and three RBIs in the series. Catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers also contributed. Pierzynski hit a home run on Saturday, and Flowers hit one on Sunday.

  • Success without Paul Konerko: What made the sweep even more impressive was the White Sox did it without Konerko for much of the series. He was hit in the face by a pitch in the third inning on Friday and never returned. He’s expected back in the Sox lineup on Tuesday.

    “Everybody is kind of doing their part – starting pitching, relievers, hitters getting some timely hits and playing defense,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after Sunday’s win. “And you put those together, you have a good chance.

    “(This series) is fun. Anytime you get the crowd that is like this, where it is split, it is fun. They’re always fun no matter where it’s at our place or here. They’re better if we win.”
  • Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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    TEAM LEADERS

    WINS LEADER
    Chris Sale
    WINS ERA SO IP
    11 2.11 178 149
    OTHER LEADERS
    BAJ. Abreu .320
    HRJ. Abreu 33
    RBIJ. Abreu 99
    RJ. Abreu 71
    OPSJ. Abreu .983
    ERAC. Sale 2.11
    SOC. Sale 178