Are the Chicago White Sox Hitting Their Stride?

JJ SSenior Writer IAugust 20, 2008

After their 15-3 win over Seattle on Wednesday afternoon, the White Sox moved to 8-1 in their last nine games.

They've won their last three series, and it has been in dominant fashion, scoring 74 runs while allowing just 18. That's good for a run differential of +56.

The pitching has been great, the offense has been solid, and as a result, the team has looked the best they have since late June and early July.

But can this stretch of good play be credited more to the White Sox or their opponents?

In their last nine games, the White Sox have played Kansas City, Oakland, and Seattle—record-wise, the three worst teams in the American League.

The starters they've faced have been Brian Bannister (5.36 ERA), Luke Hochevar (5.44), Kyle Davies (4.71), Dallas Braden (4.50), Greg Smith (3.91), Gio Gonzalez (7.53), Jarrod Washburn (4.95), Felix Hernandez (3.23), and R.A. Dickey (5.55).

That's not exactly any great competition, outside of Smith and Hernandez. However, the way the White Sox have beaten these pitchers is a good sign. They haven't just beaten these pitchers—they've destroyed them.

Paul Konerko has showed signs of breaking out of his season-long slump, hitting .300 in his last 10 games. Nick Swisher has also been hitting the ball well as of late, posting a .303 average with four home runs in his last 10 games. Alexei Ramirez has also added four home runs of his own in that same time frame.

Nobody has taken advantage of the Sox's recent competition more than Carlos Quentin, who is hitting .364 with four home runs and nine RBI in his last 10 games.

This stretch has been the best the offense has looked all year. They're not just blasting home runs; they're getting timely base hits as well.

But the pitching, which had been inconsistent since the All-Star break, has looked really good lately. Javier Vazquez has tossed back-to-back, eight-inning starts, allowing just one earned run in those 16 innings while striking out 18.

John Danks has only allowed three earned runs in his last two starts, and the Lance Broadway/Clayton Richard combo allowed two and zero earned runs in their respective starts.

The bullpen has also been better as of late, something this team will need down the stretch, with Scott Linebrink's return in limbo.

We'll know more about where this team stands after this weekend's three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays, record-wise, the best team in Major League Baseball as of Tuesday's games.

Don't expect the Sox to beat the Rays in the same manner they did the Royals, A's, and Mariners. However, if the Sox can take two of three from Tampa Bay and keep pitching like they have been, it'll be a great sign for the rest of the year.

Until then, it won't be fair to say the White Sox are hitting their stride just yet.

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