"Boom, boom, boom, boom."
The South Siders started the first Crosstown series of 2020 with a bang. Well, four bangs, actually, racing out to an 8-0 edge on their North Side hosts before the top of the fourth inning was even finished. By the time Eloy Jimenez - of "thanks, Cubs" fame - hit a 466-foot moonshot in the seventh, every part of Chicago knew what the White Sox have been saying about themselves for some time now: These guys can swing it.
Indeed, everything's coming up Pale Hose at the moment. The White Sox extended their winning streak to six games with a 10-1 thumping of their Crosstown rivals. They're on a heck of a power surge, with 19 homers in their last six games and two six-homer performances in their last five. They've seen their last two starters allow just one run in 15 dominant innings. And in a measuring-stick series against one of baseball's best teams, they've shown they can compete with the class of the game.
Of course, White Sox fans' favorite thing about Friday night? Their boys beat the brains out of the Cubs.
I'm not about to throw some "it doesn't matter who they play" cold water on Friday night's list of accomplishments. It definitely does matter that the White Sox did this to a team with the Cubs' record - the NL Central leaders - after a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, rebuilders who lost 114 games last season, could have been evaluated with some trepidation. Blasting the Cubs says something.
"These games are fun," starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel said after throwing eight innings of one-run ball in his first Crosstown game. "There's just a sense of added competition, and you can't really explain it. It's just kind of there.
"You don't expect going into games to put up eight runs on Lester or anybody on their staff. It's fun when that happens. You see guys get pulled out of the lineup because the score has been run up.
"For us to do what we did tonight is a big step forward."
Lester might not be the Cy Young candidate he used to be, but heck, he came into this one with a mighty fine 2.74 ERA. Of course, he also came into it with a left hand. The South Siders have absolutely mashed against southpaws in 2020. They came into Friday night's game slashing .291/.366/.576 with 15 home runs and 42 runs scored against left-handed pitching this season. Then they added eight runs on nine hits - four of which were homers - against Lester.
"I don't think it's so much about the team (we beat) as the guy we did it to," catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "Lester, he's going to compete, he's not going to give it to you. He's going to come at you. And the fact that we were able to stick to a plan against him and capitalize when he made a few mistakes, the little mistakes that he made, it's always a plus."
Regardless of the pitcher - now that the White Sox have done this sort of thing to top prospects and future Hall of Famers alike - the White Sox nightly power displays are becoming a real indicator of something: that Rick Hahn's offseason efforts to boost a lineup that didn't swing with a ton of power in 2019 worked.
Last season, the White Sox ranked 25th out of 30 major league teams in home runs and slugging percentage. As of this writing, the 2020 edition ranks second in baseball with 49 home runs and a .473 slugging percentage, hot on the tails of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees for the league leads in those categories, respectively.
Two of the five long balls hit Friday night came courtesy of newcomers. Grandal blasted a ball that looked real impressive before Jiménez overshadowed it with an even longer dinger. Luis Robert got the home run derby started with his second-inning laser beam, showing there's nothing to worry about when it comes to the hand soreness that kept him out of the two prior contests.
Wednesday, parrot aficionado Edwin Encarnación took not one but two trips around the bases accompanied by his feathered friend. Nomar Mazara is the only White Sox regular without a homer this season, and even though the team's still working on untapping his supposed potential, they haven't hurt for homers without his power. They leapfrogged the idle Yankees for the AL lead in that category Friday.
The White Sox needed power this winter, and Hahn went out and got some. So far in 2020, that power has come through. And though no fans means no fireworks, this was yet another "light show" by the South Side Hit Men on Friday night.
"It feels fun, fun to watch, fun to enjoy what my teammates do," Jimenez said. "Like I say, we just try to go out and enjoy the game. And I think that's whats happening now. We try to enjoy it, and you see the result.
"It's pretty good to have that lineup now. Last year, it was good. But this year, it's better."
The players all said during "Summer Camp" that this offense was capable of slugging it out with anybody.
The way it's going lately, it looks capable of out-slugging everybody. And that includes some of the best teams in baseball. That includes the Crosstown-rival Cubs.
"We know that these guys, you've got to play them hard," Grandal said. "You can't really lay down for too long because at any point at a given time, they can score five, six runs off you.
"But I guess so can we, right?"
Everything's coming up White Sox: Power surge continues in thumping of Cubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago