Getaway day matinees and conventional starting lineups often don’t mix.
Fortunately, the Chicago White Sox are well-versed in being resilient, as manager Tony La Russa and Co. have navigated numerous injuries to core players this season.
Now that many of them are coming back, the White Sox find that reinserting regulars with the replacements who kept the club afloat is a good problem to have.
Chicago has won three straight against the visiting Oakland Athletics and will try for a four-game sweep Thursday afternoon. Then comes a road trip to fellow American League playoff contenders Tampa Bay and Toronto.
“We’ve got to make sure nobody backs off,” La Russa said, “because the teams we’re playing — like this A’s team, everybody in the lineup’s a tough out. Everybody we play in the next 10 days, whether it’s Tampa Bay or Toronto, that’s what we’ve got to do. But getting those guys back definitely deepens our lineup.”
In the past three weeks, AL Central-leading Chicago has welcomed outfielders Eloy Jimenez (torn left pectoral) and Luis Robert (right hip flexor strain) back to the lineup following lengthy stays on the injured list.
On Tuesday, catcher Yasmani Grandal (torn tendon in left knee) moved his rehab assignment from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte.
While the White Sox have enjoyed getting contributions from their young stars again — Robert had three hits and two RBIs Wednesday in Chicago’s 3-2 victory — they also have received a boost from low-profile players getting back in the mix.
Utility man Jake Lamb, who returned Aug. 8 from a five-week absence caused by a strained right quadriceps, broke out of a 1-for-8 slump with a three-run home run that helped turn the tide Tuesday in the White Sox’s 9-0 rout.
“It’s something new for me,” Lamb said, “but obviously, when I’m not getting in the lineup, it’s because we’ve got a lineup like we do here.”
Oakland has lost four straight and five of six following a seven-game winning streak. Seth Brown (home run) and Starling Marte (sacrifice fly) drove in the team’s runs Wednesday.
The A’s are 4-5 entering the finale of a road trip that precedes a nine-game homestand against the contending San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees.
“I think at this point in time, every game and every series and every road trip, every homestand seems important now,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “I mean, the fact that we may be into a little bit of a tougher stretch of teams, but that’s not our focus is looking at the schedule 10 games out and saying, ‘OK, we have a tough stretch.’ It’s about having a nice run and then all of a sudden losing a few games in a row.”
A’s left-hander Cole Irvin (8-11, 3.52 ERA) is set to start Thursday after his spot in the rotation was moved back by one day. Irvin has not faced the White Sox in his career. He is 2-4 with a 3.27 ERA in his past seven starts.
Dylan Cease (9-6, 4.04 ERA) gets the call for Chicago in his first career regular-season appearance against Oakland. He pitched a perfect inning at Oakland in Game 2 of the AL wild-card series last season. Cease is coming off a no-decision against the Yankees on Saturday, when he scattered three runs and four hits in five innings.
–Field Level Media