The Chicago White Sox swept their North Side rivals by playing the kind of baseball that was supposed to make them contenders back in 2011.
Despite losing the services of Paul Konerko for a couple of days, the White Sox won three straight at Wrigley Field over the weekend. The formula was simple. Chicago got good starting pitching and drove the ball out of the park.
Each of the three games in the first round of the Crosstown Classic featured high quality starts. Phil Humber, John Danks and Jake Peavy each tossed 6.1 innings and held the lead when they left the game. In nineteen innings, only Humber's two earned runs were allowed.
Matt Thornton blew the save in Friday's opener, but tossed an inning of scoreless relief to help Peavy along to a 6-0 victory. In fact, aside from Zach Stewart surrendering a pair of two-run homers in the ninth inning of a 7-4 win on Saturday, the rest of the White Sox bullpen did not allow an earned run.
On a weekend where the wind was blowing out, the pitching was outstanding. For the South Siders to break out the brooms, however, they first had to break out the big bats.
The White Sox got the job done offensively with the long ball, sending eight balls over the ivy. Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham each had two during the weekend. Konerko opened the scoring with a two-run shot before an errant toss from Jeff Samardzija resulted in the captain being out for the remainder of the series.
Konerko and Beckham supplied the power, accounting for Chicago's offense in Friday's 3-2 win. Dayan Viciedo and A.J. Pierzynski had back-to-back dingers Saturday, helping the White Sox to a 4-0 lead. Beckham and Dunn repeated the feat Sunday in the fourth inning. Tyler Flowers sent a shot to the streets outside Wrigley in the next inning.
Viciedo, who replaced Konerko in the cleanup spot, had three RBI Saturday and was four-for-11 in the series. Despite losing their hot-hitting captain, the White Sox offense did just fine in the sweep.
Power through the heart of the lineup in addition to solid pitching might have produced different results a year ago. The combination was good enough this weekend to win three games and even Chicago's season record at 21-21. I hope we see the same results this week at U.S. Cellular Field, when the White Sox host Minnesota and Cleveland.