White Sox survive tough stretch
Team overcomes controversy off field, playing better on it
SAN FRANCISCO -- The White Sox road odyssey has come to an end, at least for the next week.
Ozzie Guillen's crew played 16 of its last 19 games away from home, culminating with Sunday's series finale at AT&T Park. They held an 8-10 record during this stretch entering their afternoon matchup with the Giants but were guaranteed to return home atop the American League Central, the same place where the team was located when it started picking up frequent-flyer miles.
If nothing else, this group has proven over the past three weeks that it has a strong mental constitution.
"That shows you want the kind of people we have," said Guillen, whose team locked up a plus-.500 showing on the West Coast via the first two wins in this weekend set. "I don't say how we're going to get, how long we're going to get, and how far we're going to get.
"But if we continue to push for each other like that, it should be a fun season, a pretty good season," Guillen added.
Guillen pointed to the Toronto series as a pivotal time for his team. The players could have been distracted by the media blitz emanating from what was intended as a clubhouse prank, not to mention renewed focus on Guillen's pointed comments ranging from topics on Lee Elia to the Cubs.
Instead, they galvanized as a unit, even bouncing back from three straight losses in Seattle and Anaheim to string together four straight wins.
"When we had a meeting a couple of weeks ago, after we went through Toronto and Minnesota and had that problem off the field, and we overcame it, wow," Guillen said. "I told the guys that I hope we don't have another week like that, but we handled it real well."
Thirteen road victories left the White Sox tied with Houston for the most in the Majors. Of course, they also had played the second most games away from home in all of baseball at 26.
For the next six games, the White Sox get to enjoy a little homecooking and let the Indians and Angels deal with the trappings of the road.
"They've handled it real well," Guillen said. "It seems like we started coming together, like we started getting a feeling about each other. I think we needed a road trip like this to make sure we could come together, learn how we're going to play the game better. They just need to stay consistent. They need to make sure they don't get down too much, [become] dead men walking in the clubhouse, dead men walking in the dugout.
"This division race, I believe is going to be all the way to the end. It's going to be a long fight, and we have to be prepared for that. To be in first place now, the way we've been playing, it shows a lot of good things, because I don't think we're playing now the way we think we'll be playing."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.