Maybe Yolmer Sanchez does actually work for the umpires. Someone’s gotta be pulling strings with someone in charge. How else do you explain the Chicago White Sox being the hottest team in baseball? That’s right, the lowly White Sox now stand as the hottest team in baseball after defeating The Yankees in the Bronx Monday Night. The win was the team’s 10th in it’s last 13 games, and also secured their first winning month of the season. So how exactly did the team that appeared destined to lose 100 games find themselves the hottest team in baseball? Well, Monday’s game had a little bit of everything that has propelled the team during this unlikely run.
The discussion must start with Carlos Rodon. Rodon has been lights out since returning for the Sox in June, and has been amongst the best pitchers in baseball during that time. Carlos Rodon‘s August ERA of 1.55 is indicative of just how impressive he’s been this month and this season overall. His efforts on Tuesday featured a full dose of just what has made him so impressive this month. Facing a Yankees lineup that has won 83 games on the year, (albeit without Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez or Didi Gregorious in it) Rodon maintained the appearance of an ace. He handled the daunting Yankees lineup for seven, two-run innings. Rodon managed this performance without the use of his best stuff, but still found a way to make Giancarlo Stanton look silly on a two strike slider, no easy task. The gutsy performance, which involved working out of a daunting two on, no out situation in the seventh, is a testament to just how far Rodon has come as a pitcher.
The White Sox rotation has been delivering highlight performances all month. Including, Michael Kopech‘s first career win, Lucas Giolito‘s four quality starts in August, and Reynaldo Lopez‘s own gem against the Yankees at home on August seventh. The rotation’s sudden dominance has been a major driving force in the month of August. But what’s a pitching staff without run support? The answer is not much, but that hasn’t been a concern for the Sox this month.
The team scored six runs on Monday off of Mashairo Tanaka and the Yankes bullpen, once again, no easy task. The big blows came in the sixth and seventh innings, as the White Sox chased Tanaka with four runs. The major contributors to this two inning rally? Nicky Delmonico, Yoan Moncada, and Tim Anderson. No other players in the White Sox lineup have been as instrumental in the lineup’s scorching August as those three.
Tim Anderson, who’s double in the seventh inning delivered perhaps the fatal blow, has found his groove in the month of August. Hitting .273, Anderson appears as confident as ever on the field. Look no further than his Jeter-like throw across the diamond in the second inning of Monday’s contest for proof of the level Anderson is playing at. For a player that has had his average and defense knocked for much of the 2018 campaign, Anderson has looked the way of an above average everyday shortstop for most of August, and has provided a major jolt to the lineup.
Perhaps feeding off Anderson’s energy, the true hero of Monday’s game and one of the most encouraging signs during this stretch is Yoan Moncada. Moncada continued to show signs of figuring it out at the plate, as his bases loaded double in the sixth tied the game and provided life for a White Sox lineup that had looked helpless against Tanaka up to that point. While Moncada may not have the numbers of a superstar in August, a deeper dive shows he’s getting it done when it counts. On the year, Moncada is hitting .462 with the bases loaded, the best on the team.
Although Moncada and Anderson’s hits were the headline grabbers, it was Nicky Delmonico who actually drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly. The RBI was a continuation of an August where Delmonico appears to have found some of the magic he had last year. Delmonico is tied for second on the team with four home runs this month, and two of them have come in the last seven days.
Anderson’s defensive gem was not the only one for the Sox on the night, as Yolmer Sanchez snagged a chopper to his left and managed to get it across to Yoan Moncada at second in time to turn the double play that saved Carlos Rodon from a potentially disastrous seventh inning. In all, Monday was perhaps the best the team has looked all month, and honestly, all year.
Fans may be witnessing the true turning point of the team’s rebuild, and if Monday was any indication, the arrow is pointing straight up.
Follow David Wildman on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: Chicago White Sox