Grandal high on Sox’ youth
The White Sox won’t bring a ton of postseason experience to the playoffs, but that isn’t necessarily going to be a bad thing, catcher Yasmani Grandal said.
Grandal, who has played in the last five postseasons with the Dodgers and Brewers, said the Sox’ youth is one of the things that makes them dangerous.
“A team like this team that runs everything out, can steal, bunt, hit the long ball, string runs together, is pretty much never out of a game, that’s pretty nerve-racking for somebody else,” Grandal said Thursday of the Sox, who clinched their first playoff berth since 2008.
Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, Nomar Mazara, Jarrod Dyson, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo Lopez, Gio Gonzalez and Steve Cishek have playoff experience. Grandal and Keuchel have been to the World Series.
Ten Sox players made their major-league debut this season, including relievers Codi Heuer (the winning pitcher in relief Thursday), Matt Foster and second baseman
Nick Madrigal, who have made significant contributions. They have been fueled by playoff-starved Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Alex Colome and James McCann, as well as young players such as Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada, who are establishing themselves as stars.
The narrative among the young Sox is that they are playing playoff baseball already.
The intensity level is up, but of course that’s not the case.
“The playoffs are completely different to what we’re playing right now,” Grandal said. “I don’t think for us this is a playoff mentality right now. The stakes in the playoffs are slightly higher, intensity gets way up there. For now, [the young players] just seem relaxed, they seem like they’re confident in what they’re doing. And that’s a positive. You want to see that on a daily basis.”
And that just might work for a young team. “You don’t need to be ‘ready’ for the playoffs,” Grandal said. “Ninety percent of these guys have never been there. So don’t try to get ready for it or amp up for it. Take it one step at a time, and if it ends up happening, great. We know we can come back next year and do it all over again. If it doesn’t, we got experience under our belt, and then we can come back next year and do it all over again.”
This and that
Per STATS, Abreu became the first Sox player with 51 RBI in the first 50 games of a season since Frank Thomas in 1996 (52) and the first in the majors to accomplish the feat since Miguel Cabrera in 2013 (57). Abreu has hit safely in 28 of his last 29 games, hitting 392/.434/.808 with 14 home runs and 39 RBI.
The win Thursday was the Sox’ 11th comefrom-behind victory. They’ve scored 84 runs in the seventh inning or later, most in the AL.
Dyson started in right field in place of slumping Mazara and went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases and a run scored. Entering the game, Dyson was 4-for-12 with a home run and double against Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda.
The Sox recalled right-hander Jose Ruiz from Schaumburg to shore up their bullpen and optioned infielder Danny Mendick to Schaumburg. “We needed to make sure if something went sideways, we had enough pitching to get us through the ballgame today,” manager Rick Renteria said.