How Sox measured up to Yankees in three-game sweep originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago White Sox got a crash course in losing this weekend, swept out of The Bronx by the New York Yankees. Andrew Vaughn's succinct summation of the team's feelings was applicable to the look on his face and Tony La Russa's.
"Right now I’m hurting for our club," the South Side skipper said after Sunday's 5-4 defeat, the second of two walk-off losses in the 0-for-3 weekend. "Proud and hurt."
The other emotion matters.
White Sox fans might not be ready to hear about the silver linings of a weekend that saw their team score five runs in three days, a 2020-esque shellacking of Dylan Cease and a walk-off walk courtesy the $54 million closer. But if this was a measuring-stick series for the White Sox, a possible preview of what's to come in October for a team with World Series aspirations, they didn't do a terrible job of measuring up.
Carlos Rodón was electric Friday. José Abreu, Yasmani Grandal and Vaughn came up with some clutch home runs Sunday, Vaughn's ninth-inning blast off Aroldis Chapman tying the game in the top of the ninth inning.
Remember, this is a Yankees team that's been built to contend every year in recent memory. The White Sox are just arriving at contender level. And this weekend showed they've got some stuff to figure out. But they matched the Yankees on two out of three nights, showing they're ready for prime time, too.
"I think a lot of us were looking forward to this weekend. And you always want to win ballgames, but this was fun," White Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. "We had two out of three really good ballgames and just down to the wire. Just things didn't go our way. But that's what you want. That's what you want in the regular season.
"Come playoff time, we can hopefully come back (to Yankee Stadium) or play the Yankees, we'll have a little bit of grit underneath us and more experience. That's a quality ballclub, and that's one I like to face. They give you their best shot every time out. We're just going to take some experience with us.
"We got swept, but we were right in the thick of things there for pretty much the whole weekend."
Keuchel might be glossing over Saturday's game, when the White Sox offense was completely silenced by Gerrit Cole. Indeed, without Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert, the offense was mostly an all-around issue this weekend. You can credit the good pitching of the Yankees all day long — and it is quite good — but the White Sox will need to figure out how to solve good pitching if they want to win a championship. Cole, or someone like him, will be standing in their way, and the only way around good pitching is through good pitching.
But Keuchel's got a point with the other two games of the series, which lived up to the playoff-preview hype.
Perhaps no one really cares if the results are what they were for the White Sox, walk-off losses on Friday and Sunday by the narrowest margins and on the flukiest of plays. A triple play that killed a ninth-inning rally sent the White Sox to a loss Friday. Sunday, Aaron Bummer gave up a pair of ground-ball hits — one a broken-bat tapper to no man's land — before Liam Hendriks walked Aaron Judge with the bases loaded to end the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.
But other than a couple of losses, it wasn't an unfamiliar couple of efforts from a White Sox group that just mowed their way through two weeks of games against AL Central foes from Kansas City and Minnesota, asserting their divisional dominance. Once outside the division, things changed in the win-loss column. La Russa wasn't so sure they had anywhere else.
"What we did here at Yankee Stadium is what we’ve been doing, the effort that we’ve had for (all of) April and May," La Russa said. "We didn’t change anything, and that’s encouraging, didn’t get over-awed by the moment. That’s the point, we were ourselves.
"Had a real chance to win two. I think we should have won one, at least, if there was justice. But their team did better than we did three times."
The White Sox are a good team. The Yankees are a good team. And both teams want to be holding a trophy at the end of October. That the Yankees won all three games this weekend might make them the better team right now, in May. It might not, considering how Games 1 and 3 were won.
But Games 1 and 3 were not just playoff-esque because of the caliber of the pitching or the tightness of the score. They were reminiscent of postseason ball because there was such a small margin for error, the games coming down to the wire and down to one play.
Things aren't all sunshine and lollipops for the White Sox, and without the injuries to Jiménez and Robert, the outcomes might have been drastically different this weekend. But don't think an 0-3 showing points out disqualifying flaws or suggests the White Sox are only what they are because of weak competition.
"I’d like to win two out of three, or at least one out of three to salvage the series," Keuchel said. "I’ll take where we’re at right now. I know we’re going to go back home and enjoy not playing the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. We’ll hopefully take this with us for the rest of the year."
All that being said, if these were actual playoff games, the White Sox season would be over. It's not, thankfully for them, because of where they came in the calendar. They've got a few months to figure out how to be on the right side of these kinds of games.
Because, as we all know: