CHICAGO — The Bears play the Lions tomorrow afternoon, but on Saturday night it was Chicago's baseball team with a two-touchdown victory over Detroit. José Abreu led the way with a monstrous four hits in four at bats, two home runs, seven RBIs and a walk (as a treat!).
Reynaldo stepping in and stepping up
The 2020 season was going to be a prove-it opportunity for Reynaldo López to show the organization if he had any place in the starting rotation moving forward.
Entering Saturday night's game against the Detroit Tigers, the only thing that López had proven in 2020 was that he didn't belong in the starting rotation. There have been a number of seasons where Reynaldo's struggles were tolerated simply because the White Sox were rebuilding. Rebuilding teams have far more tolerance for struggling players than first-place teams do, thus the White Sox demoted López to their Schaumburg training site last week.
After Dallas Keuchel's trip to the IL after his last start, López's services were needed once again, which is why he had another shot to pitch for the Sox in 2020. With the White Sox playoff odds sitting somewhere between 99 and 99.9%, I would have liked to see them send out rookie Bernardo Flores Jr. for a couple of spot starts, but they erred on the side of familiarity by slotting López in.
López was more than formidable in his comeback start on Saturday night. The offense was out in full force, but López did his part, keeping the Tigers off the board in five scoreless innings of work on three hits, two Ks and one walk.
It was by far his best outing of the season, and one the White Sox will take every time out if he can offer it, as it also allowed some key bullpen pieces a night off.
Right out of the gate
The White Sox wasted no time getting on the board. Tigers starter Michael Fulmer allowed a leadoff single to MVP candidate Tim Anderson, who was later driven in by a line-drive single off the bat of fellow MVP candidate Abreu. The top of the first also saw RBI knocks from Eloy Jiménez and Edwin Encarnación, ultimately spotting López with a three-run lead before he came out to pitch the second.
On a team with as much offensive talent as the White Sox have, there's something extra delicious about Abreu leading the charge in 2020. Anyone who has watched the White Sox since Abreu debuted in 2014 knows that he's been an outstanding leader off, and often on the field. That's far easier to do when your team is in first place, and one of the best in the league. It's not such a simple task when you're going through a rebuild, and playing on some truly awful teams, which Abreu has had to do more often than not in his career. It's in those awful years that his leadership has been so impressive. He's been an incredible advocate for a White Sox organization that up until 2020 didn't have a whole lot to advocate for.
There isn't a single player on the team who deserves the joy and glory of the 2020 White Sox more than Abreu. Enjoy it, José.
MVP candidate teammates Anderson and Abreu didn't hurt their respective MVP chances on Saturday night, combining for eight hits, two home runs and seven RBIs.
Nomar Mazara: Fulmer killer
It has been a mostly frustrating season for offseason acquisition Nomar Mazara, as he has yet to hit his first home run in a White Sox uniform. I don't know if he'll hit any home runs in 2020, but coming into Saturday night's game, not one batter in the Sox lineup had dominated Fulmer more than Mazara: In 13 career at-bats, Mazara owned a slash line of .500/.615/.800. He didn't homer, but he did add to his dominant résumé against Fulmer by smoking a two-run double in the bottom of the third inning, extending the Sox lead to 5-0.
This has been an incredibly surreal season on all fronts, and the White Sox are continuing to place themselves firmly in the conversation as the best team in the American League. I don't care how optimistic a fan you are, but nobody expected the White Sox to be THIS good, THIS soon. The fact that we can even have debates about who is a more deserving MVP among multiple Sox teammates is a stunning development in a season that almost didn't happen.
Who knows if the Sox will win the World Series this year? To be honest, as incredible as it would be if they did, it wouldn't bother me all that much if they didn't.
The rebuild is not only over, but barely recognizable in the rearview mirror. It might be a year earlier than expected, but the White Sox have become an absolute force, and will continue that status throughout a lengthy window of contention. If you can't enjoy this, you might want to consider different interests, because this is as good as it gets, at least as far as being a sports fan is concerned.
Enjoy every second, you've earned it.