CHICAGO (670 The Score) – The White Sox’s rebuild that’s in its fourth year has paid its first dividends. After 12 long years, the White Sox are returning to the playoffs.
Chicago rallied to beat Minnesota, 4-3, at Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday afternoon, clinching at least a wild-card berth in the expanded 16-team postseason. The White Sox (33-17) also strengthened their hold on the AL Central, extending their lead over the Twins to three games with just 10 games to play for Chicago.
“This is the culmination of the work we have done over the last few years,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Give credit to the front office collectively. We are all extremely happy. This is hopefully the first step as we move forward. This is all about the character of our guys and how they have developed. We are playing the team that has been ahead of us in the last few years. It feels good to do it.”
While the White Sox were expected to be much improved this season given the ascension of their young talent and the additions of established veterans like catcher Yasmani Grandal and left-hander Dallas Keuchel in the offseason, their current standing as the best team in the American League has been rather unexpected. They’ve drawn plenty of praise from across the MLB landscape for their ascension, which has meant a lot to players who have been with the organization for quite awhile – such as shortstop Tim Anderson and first baseman Jose Abreu, who joined the White Sox in 2014 and had never played for a team with a better record than 78-84.
“I’m happy to be a part of this, and I am sure the fans are proud as well,” Anderson said. “We have to keep going, man. It was a big hug between me and Abreu. We are going in the right direction. We want a bigger goal, so now it's on to the next thing we must do. We must rally around each other and play good baseball.”
The White Sox’s next goal now is to win the AL Central. They continue that quest by visiting the Cincinnati Reds for a three-game series beginning Friday.
Of course, before they did, they reflected on what Thursday meant to them.
"This was a very special moment,” outfielder Eloy Jimenez said. “This is something we will never forget. We’re building something. Now we are in the playoffs. This is something important for the team and the organization. I said at the beginning of the year, we had a team good enough to make the playoffs. Maybe some people did not believe that, but we have shown that to be true.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.