Last year, the White Sox learned to crawl.
The Sox, who finished second behind the Twins in AL Central in a tough regular season shortened to 60 games by COVID-19, made it to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
It took a short while and the White Sox went home after losing two of three to the Athletics in a “balloon” series played at Oakland.
This year, the Sox learned to walk.
They finished first in division for the first time since 2008 and drew more than 80,000 in two ALDS games in the Guaranteed Odds Zone.
Game 3 on Sunday night will be remembered for a long time. After trailing the Astros 5-1 early, the White Sox are back for a 12-6 win.
It will be easy to forget Game 4 on Tuesday.
Again falling behind Houston 5-1, the Sox never caught the comeback spark, losing 10-1 and heading home.
Next year, they’ll want to dig much deeper into October.
“Overall, I think this has been a positive season,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said on Thursday. “There’s a lot of positives there. We won the division, that didn’t happen last year. We also brought two playoff games to Chicago, that didn’t happen last year. So I think that’s just one step to where we are. We have to continue to believe and trust this process as we try to get there and step by step. We must go step by step.
“Overall, I think it’s been a huge step forward this year. We’ve struggled all season, with injuries, really everything. And the fact that we’ve been able to get where we are says a lot about the prom club and this organization.”
Looking back at the ALDS, the Sox were badly behind the Astros in the first two games of the series in Houston and their final game in the Guaranteed Odds Field.
White Sox newcomers Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon shot a combined 12⅓, allowing for 14 won runs in 14 strokes and 12 walks.
The Sox’s attack hit .291/.361/.376 and 35 of his 41 hits were singles.
The defense was also shaking, and the combination of disappointments was too much for the White Sox to handle.
“You had two very good prom clubs, and frankly, they were the better prom clubs,” Anderson said. “They won the series. They collected more bats than we did, more clutch hits than we did. But I know we raced to the end in the whole series. In the end, they became a better team.” “
The Sox aim to be a better playoff team by 2022, and 77-year-old manager Tony La Russa is sure to be back to give it another try.
Like his teammates Jose Abreu, Rodon and Gavin Sheets for the past few days, Anderson said he enjoyed playing for the Hall of Famer in his first season after retiring.
“The big impact,” Anderson said. “Everyone thought we couldn’t get along, but we were always talking behind the scenes. For him, the actors come first and he shows it. We are a big family.
“I think he did a great job coming in and being a part of what we’re trying to do. I couldn’t be happier with what he’s done.
“For me, yes, I want him to come back. But at the end of the day, my decision doesn’t really matter, so I guess it all depends on what the front office thinks. I’m strictly speaking from a player’s point of view.”