Pitching and power have carried the bulk of the burden during the White Sox's eight-game winning streak, but a few more ingredients were added to their success Thursday night.
Backup catcher Toby Hall's mastery of left-handed pitching, Brian Anderson's astute baserunning and Carlos Quentin's clutch hitting enabled the Sox to push across two runs in the eighth inning as they completed a three-game sweep of American League Central rival Cleveland with a 3-1 victory.
The Sox are one game from matching their last nine-game winning streak, from June 15-24, 2006.
"Believe me, when you have a run like this, you can't wait to get to the ballpark," manager Ozzie Guillen said after the Sox expanded their Central lead to 31/2 games.
"Awesome," Hall added after going 3-for-3 off Aaron Laffey and starting the two-run rally in the eighth with a single. "Like we said in spring training, this is a whole different team. It's a new atmosphere and enthusiasm. Everyone jokes around, and it's fun to come to the field every day."
Hall helped the Sox (26-20) improve to 10-4 in games against left-handed starters. Anderson replaced him as a pinch-runner and alertly tagged up on a deep fly to center field by pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski to move into scoring position with two out.
"It was deep enough, but it's hard not to tag when (first base coach) Harold Baines is yelling 'tag' as loud as he can," Anderson said. "When you hear Harold yelling that loud, you tend to listen."
Quentin then singled off reliever Masa Kobayashi to score Anderson. Quentin is 7-for-14 with two out and runners in scoring position this season and is batting .417 overall (15-for-36) with runners in scoring position.
"In those situations, I've had a tendency to get amped up," Quentin said. "Fortunately, this year I've backed off, used the barrel, get a single, get the run in and do anything to get the job done."
Jermaine Dye added insurance with an RBI single to support a pitching staff whose success has paralleled the winning streak.
Mark Buehrle didn't get the victory but gained some redemption for his Opening Day disaster at Cleveland as he limited the Indians to two hits over seven innings. Buehrle has allowed just two runs in his last 132/3 innings, and the Sox's starters have posted a 1.67 ERA during the winning streak.
"Any starter wants to get the win when he can, but if I go 0-0 and we win every one of my starts, we're going to get to the right place at the end of the year," Buehrle said.
Hall was more forthcoming about Buehrle's performance.
"Awesome," Hall said. "Buehrle is Buehrle. He kept us in the game the whole time. He deserved to win, but that's all you can ask for."
Bobby Jenks tied Hoyt Wilhelm for fourth in franchise history when he earned his 98th career save as the Sox took their second consecutive three-game series sweep.
"The statement was set up in spring training," Guillen said. "I want those guys to be mean. I want them to play hard, play the game right and have fun."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun