CHICAGO -- Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Rangers pushed the White Sox over the .500 mark at U.S. Cellular Field this season.
The three-game sweep of the Rangers, coupled with back-to-back wins over the Brewers before the White Sox embarked on a seven-game road trip to Minneapolis and New York, extended their home winning streak to five games and sent them over .500 at U.S. Cellular Field for the first time since they were 2-1 on April 15. Sitting at 22-21 doesn't seem overwhelming for a team that's also atop the American League Central.
But being one game over represents a great improvement for manager Robin Ventura's crew over the past 23 games, when it has posted a 15-8 home record. Success in Chicago is what the White Sox figure to need during a tough second-half run to hang on to the division lead.
"We have to play better at home to win the division," White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy said. "We know that, and we expect to do that."
In their past 23 games at U.S. Cellular, the White Sox have a .286 average as a team with 148 runs scored, 36 homers and a 4.14 ERA. In the previous 20 home games, during which they played to a dismal 7-13 record, the Sox hit .238 as a team with 77 runs scored, 20 homers and a 4.77 ERA.
White Sox strong work ethic starts with Ventura
CHICAGO -- Wednesday's 5-4 victory over the Rangers in 10 innings marked the halfway point of the season for the White Sox and improved their record to 44-37. They also held a two-game lead in the American League Central entering Thursday's series finale.
It's not the lead or the record that impresses White Sox manager Robin Ventura. It's more about the process for success.
"For me, it's the effort guys bring every day," Ventura said. "We've had individual guys do a lot of great things. As a team coming in every day, just their attitude.
"Every day is a different day, no matter what they did the night before. They still come in with the same energy every day to win that game, instead of sitting on what they did for the last week."
White Sox players have given credit for this daily focus to Ventura and his new coaching staff.
"They have to see us doing it the same way as a staff that we come in every day; it's not something you declare," Ventura said. "If there are mistakes made the night before, you don't hold it against a guy for him playing.
"We're all doing it together. It's not something you just tell a guy and they're going to do it."
Youkilis' gritty style 'infectious' in new clubhouse
CHICAGO -- The change of scenery from Boston to Chicago has clearly benefited White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who is hitting .308 with 10 RBIs in 10 games with the White Sox after delivering a go-ahead homer leading off the sixth inning of Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
But the trade hasn't changed Youkilis' approach at the plate or overall style of play, which seems to rub off on everyone around him.
"Just the intensity," said White Sox manage Robin Ventura of Youkilis. "He has an energy he brings -- the competitiveness he has. It's infectious, and it's a good thing for our guys to see in a guy who has been a winner.
"You have guys like Paul [Konerko] who have done it and lead by example, and he does the same thing. He doesn't stand around and tell everybody about it."
Adam Dunn leads the American League with 4.54 pitches per at-bat, and Alejandro De Aza ranks 25th at 3.97. Adding Youkilis between those two hitters further taxes an opposing hurler right from the start.
"Last night's at-bat, he did that," said Ventura of Youkilis' single to cap a nine-pitch, game-winning at-bat off reliever Mike Adams in the 10th inning of a 5-4 victory over Texas. "He just keeps fouling off pitches, and eventually a pitcher gives in. The more pitches you see, the more you foul off, they get a little closer."
"Like I've said, it's a lot of fun playing baseball again," Youkilis said. "It's a good feeling to have, and I'm just enjoying it. There are going to be some ruts, and hopefully there are small ruts and a lot of positives."
Third to first
Ventura listed Dylan Axelrod as his starter for Sunday's game against the Blue Jays, the final contest of the season's first half. Axelrod would be working on three days' rest, but with Philip Humber on the way back from a right elbow flexor strain, Axelrod figures to move back to middle relief shortly after the All-Star break.
"Right now, it's Axel," Ventura said. "It can change at any moment."
The White Sox lead the Majors with a .305 batting average with runners in scoring position this season.
Gordon Beckham made his first career start in the leadoff spot during Thursday's win. He finished 1-for-4 with a double.
Jesse Crain celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday.