Sox back at .500, but Guillen says focus more on winning series
By Toni Ginnetti firstname.lastname@example.org August 14, 2011 8:00PM
Chicago White Sox's Brent Lillibridge hits a three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Chicago, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:28AM
It’s best not to mention that the White Sox climbed back to .500
(60-60) with their 6-2 victory Sunday against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
‘‘I’ve sat here three times [when the Sox reached .500] and said, ‘Yes, we’re on a roll,’ and all of a sudden we go backwards,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. ‘‘But if we play like we did today . . . the offense played a big part, John Danks threw well and [we got] big-time defense.’’
Those three elements go hand in hand with winning, and they led to the Sox picking up ground in the American League Central race. They trail the first-place Detroit Tigers by four games and the second-place Cleveland Indians by 11/2.
The Sox haven’t been above the .500 mark since April 13, when they were 7-6, but they’re focusing more on winning series now.
‘‘[The] .500 [mark] is a little overrated,’’ said Danks (5-9), who didn’t allow a hit until Billy Butler’s two-out liner near first base bounced up and handcuffed Brent Lillibridge in the sixth inning. ‘‘We didn’t expect to be .500 at this point of the season, but we’re looking more now at Cleveland and Detroit than .500. Our focus is more finishing ahead of Detroit and Cleveland.
‘‘It only takes a good week against the right opponents, and we’re back in it. There are enough games left against the teams ahead of us that we can get some leeway.’’
Winning series is a good formula for success, and the Sox have won three of them in a row, something they hadn’t done since May (at Seattle, at Los Angeles and at Oakland).
‘‘It was our fault we didn’t win series early in the season,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘We put ourselves in that position; we can’t blame anyone else. We dug this hole, and we have to come out and not dig it deeper. The hole we dug was very deep. Now we get to the level where it’s even.
‘‘If we win series, we have a very good chance [to win the division]. It means you are playing more than .500 baseball. I hope we do that. I will take that for the rest of the season.
‘‘I’ll take two out of three against anybody who comes to town. I don’t think it’s necessary to sweep every-
body [to contend]. You just win series; that’s more realistic. If we sweep, good. And we have to stay away from being swept.’’
Guillen also will take the effort he received from super sub Lillibridge, who hit a three-run home run in the first against Royals starter Jeff Francis. Lillibridge played first in place of hobbled Paul Konerko and was adequate. He committed an
error in the third, but that baserunner was erased on a double play.
When Butler’s ball bounced up on Lillibridge in the sixth, the play initially was ruled an error before it was changed to a hit. The crowd of 25,517 booed loudly when the scoreboard showed the change, but Jeff Francoeur followed with a double to put an end to any debate.
‘‘I noticed the boos, which was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard,’’ Danks said. ‘‘I don’t blame Lilly at all. I had two outs and should have pitched over it.’’
The Royals went on to score both their runs in the inning.
‘‘I thought it was going to be an easy out . . . and it just kicked up,’’ Lillibridge said of Butler’s hit. ‘‘Tough one. Little things to learn as a first baseman. Next time, I’ll definitely smother it and keep it in front of me.’’