OAKLAND – Ten years ago, he was on a club that just about faced a “must-win” every time out in the month of September.
That was the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, who were as much as 10 1/2 games out of the National League Central division lead and the Wild Card in late August. Yet an 18-8 September allowed them to take the latter on the last day of season, and they rode that momentum to win a most unexpected World Series title.
That was the last time Tony La Russa was involved in a race for the playoffs before this season, but in 2021, things have been a lot different for his White Sox.
Since July 11th, the White Sox have maintained at least and 8 1/2 game lead in the American League Central division, doing so despite the fact that they dealt with a number of injuries to starters all season long. That advantage sits at 9 1/2 games and their magic number of 17 to clinch their first division championship since 2008.
Consistency has been the key for White Sox as they now head to Oakland to face the Athletics for the first of a three-game series. It’s part of a six-game stretch against potential playoff opponents, with the Red Sox, who are in pursuit of a Wild Card, coming to Guaranteed Rate Field this weekend.
So far the White Sox have had a winning record in each month of the season, finishing 14-11 in April, 19-10 in May, 14-11 in June, 14-12 in July, then 16-12 in August. Only twice all season long have they been swept in a series – in April at the Yankees and in June in Houston – and have maintained the lead in the division every day since May 7th.
“It’s a consequence of how dedicated the club has been to each and every series,” said La Russa of the team’s consistency. “That’s what we need to do the last 20-plus games we have. There’s still a bunch of wins we have to get.
“We’ve had a winning month, every month, so we really haven’t opened the door for anybody.”
Right now it looks like they’ll keep it shut the rest of the way this regular season for their AL Central foes who can’t keep up with the White Sox in 2021.