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Sox 9, Royals 3
Pirates 6, Cubs 5
Hawks 4, Stars 2
Bulls 108, Pistons 96
Stars at Hawks (7, NBCSCH)
Look on the bright side
Between Luis Robert's injury and Tony La Russa's Rulegate, last week wasn't full of positive vibes for the White Sox.
But after a weekend sweep of the Royals in Kansas City, this week is starting off on a much better note. Here are 10 reasons the early fatalism has been a bit overdone in certain quarters (including here).
- They're in first place! Three wins over the Royals moved the Sox to 19-13. That's a game ahead of Cleveland and 3.5 clear of Kansas City, which is now under .500 after a surprising start. Only one team in the American League — the 22-13 Red Sox — has a better winning percentage.
- They've won 13 of the last 18 games. The Sox were 6-8 after a loss in Boston on April 17. Everyone then wondered when the Sox might go on a run and, well, it happened. Actually, it still is happening.
- The Sox have a chance to solidify their position this week:. The Twins have been showing everyone what a team with real problems looks like and the Sox could make those worse over the next week-plus. Minnesota is 12-20 and already trails by seven games. The Sox will get six games against Minnesota over the next week-plus with a four-game weekend visit from the Royals sandwiched in between. The opportunity to make the AL Central a two-horse race with Cleveland is there.
- They're not relying on the long ball: The Sox had the third-most homers in 2020 and if I had told you they'd own the third-least homers in 2021 with 27 (so far), there would have been mass panic on the South Side. Yet the team ranks still ranks fourth in runs behind only the Red Sox, Dodgers and Astros.
- They own the best run-differential in baseball. The Sox are +53 after outscoring Kansas City 21-4 this weekend. The next closest team is the Red Sox at +36. (The Royals, by the way, are now -31, so much for that start.)
- Carlos Rodon and Dylan Cease. The two biggest preseason question marks on the roster have produced. Rodon is an early leader for Cy Young with a 5-0 record, 0.58 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 44 strikeouts over 31 innings. Cease, meanwhile, is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and 40 Ks over 30.1 innings. Throw in Lance Lynn's 1.52 ERA and the Sox starters have the best combined ERA in MLB (2.66).
- Lucas Giolito still hasn't pitched well. The Sox ace hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been great with a 2-3 record, 4.54 ERA and homer, strikeout and walk rates that have regressed a little so far. The good news is that the rest of the starting rotation has picked up the slack and Giolito isn't likely to pitch at this level this whole season.
- Jose Abreu is maybe heating up? The reigning AL MVP didn't have a great April, but he went 7-for-19 with a homer, three doubles and seven RBI over this five-game road trip. And we all know what happens to the Sox offense when the weather starts to warm at Sox Park.
- Andrew Vaughn can play defense! Hopefully plays like this one earn him more at-bats and the opportunity to start posting better offensive numbers. (He's still looking for his first career homer.)
- Yermin Mercedes has resumed his run at .400. Thought I'd forget this guy? After a 2-for-15 start to May, the Yerminator had a double, triple and three RBI to spark Sunday's win. His average of .373 is only second in the bigs to Mike Trout at .376. He's a good reminder that not all unexpected developments in a baseball season are bad.
Next: The Twins arrive on Tuesday for a three-game set. Dylan Cease gets Kenta Maeda in the opener.
Who is the shortest player in MLB history with a 50-homer season?
News and results
Final: Pirates 6, Cubs 5
After a pair of one-run Cubs victories to start the series, it was Pittsburgh's turn on Sunday. The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Cubs.
- Kyle Hendricks continues to worry. He pitched well against the Dodgers last Monday, but gave up six runs — four earned — against the Pirates to raise his season ERA to 6.24.
- The Cubs are 17-17 and trail the Cardinals by 3.5 games.
Next: In Cleveland for a two-game set starting Tuesday. Adbert Alzolay (1-2, 4.50) gets the misfortune of starting against Shane Bieber (3-2, 2.98) in the first game.
Final: Bulls 108, Pistons 96
Zach LaVine had 30 and Nikola Vucevic had 29 as the Bulls won their third straight game. At 29-39, they're 2.5 games behind the Pacers for the last play-in spot with four to play.
- The Bulls likely won't catch Indiana, nor is that something you should want! Even though they'll likely have to send this year's first-rounder to Orlando, Tankathon still puts their chances at landing a top-4 protected pick at 26.2 percent.
Next: Brooklyn comes calling to the UC on Tuesday night.
Final: Hawks 4, Stars 2
The game didn't mean anything for either team, but it was nice to see 3,820 fans back in the building and roaring for Alex DeBrincat as he scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season. (I'll be honest and say I didn't anticipate wishing I was there ... but I found myself doing just that as I watched the Hawks score three goals in the first period.)
- The Hawks were the last American NHL team to let fans back into their games. They won the last game before the lockdown (a 6-2 win over San Jose on March 11, 2020) and won the first game after it.
Next: The two teams close out the season tonight.
- David Ross and his famous new girlfriend — an actress from one of the Chicago shows — made it Instagram official on Sunday. People
- Prayers are needed for Tarik Cohen's family after his twin brother Tyrell was found dead on Sunday. ABC 7 Chicago
- How Beth Mowins celebrated after making history by calling Saturday's Cubs game. Tribune
- A playlist of must-watch Justin Fields videos. Windy City Gridiron
- The outsized legacy that Helmut Jahn leaves on Chicago and its suburbs. Daily Herald
Trivia answer: Cubs legend Hack Wilson, who hit 56 homers in 1930 and only stood 5-foot-6. (Shoutout to Martin for the question.)