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Any hope? White Sox show just a glimmer taking series from mighty Braves

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ATLANTA – How can you not feel just a little bit encouraged by taking two of three games from the mighty Atlanta Braves, even if you are the disappointing, underachieving White Sox?

The Sox are feeling just that after completing their second straight well-played victory against a team that hadn’t lost a series since May. The Sox won a series for the first time since June, and head to New York to play the Mets and then Minnesota for the AL Central leading Twins with just a little pep in their step after Sunday’s 8-1 thumping of the Braves at Truist Park.

Perhaps knowing Eloy Jimenez will miss at least the next several days with a groin injury tempers the enthusiasm. Or simply knowing the Sox are still a whopping 15 games under .500 with 12 games left before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

They need a significant winning streak and they need one now to at least make the front office think hard about trading off assets, which appeared to be a foregone conclusion for some time and may still be.

“It just shows we can play with anybody, right?” manager Pedro Grifol said before boarding the team’s charter for New York.

“You look at the schedule right before the [All-Star] break, OK we start in Atlanta and then we go to New York and Minnesota, that’s a tough schedule. But you don’t know what’s going to happen. All you have to do is just strap it on and prepare yourself to go play a game. You do know what’s going to happen if you don’t play hard and you don’t prepare. You’re going to get your ass kicked.”

Kicking some butt against a team that has no weaknesses, in Grifol’s and the players’ view,says something.

“That’s huge for us,” said Jake Burger, whose 461-foot homer was his second in two games, both wins after an 9-0 stinker on Friday.

“It’s baseball. Anything can happen,” said shortstop Tim Anderson, who reached base his first three times up with two singles and a walk. “It just says anything can happen and anything is possible.”

Perhaps. But the Sox are still 8 1/2 games out of first place in a bad division. So they must get hot and stay hot, something they haven’t shown to be capable of.

Two wins, even against the Braves would only be a start to being that.

“It’s one of those series that shows what kind of talent we have,” Cease said.

With Luis Robert Jr. front and center. The team’s only All-Star had his fourth career four-hit game including his 27th homer, and Cease pitched five innings of one-run ball in his Georgia homecoming. Andrew Benintendi (three hits), Anderson and Robert combined for nine hits in the top third of the lineup, and the Sox led 6-1 after scoring four in the second inning against lefty Kolby Allard, who would leave with a sore shoulder.

The bullpen, including a two-inning effort from lefty Aaron Bummer, allowed two hits after Cease, the Woodstock, Ga., native who had more than 30 family and friends in the stands.

“It was really cool,” Cease said. “I never went to Truist but to Turner Field. But it was nice to pitch in my hometown park.”

Cease touched 98 mph, citing adrenaline and an eight-day rest over the All-Star break for the uptick in velocity.

“From the start they gave me a nice lead and it was a pretty clean game. I would like to have gone deeper than five, I wasn’t super crisp with my command but I battled and everyone behind me picked me up and we got the series win which is really all I can ask for.”

The win halted a streak of eight no-decisions for Cease.

If it started anything of significance for the Sox, time will tell. But time is running out. Quickly.

“It doesn’t surprise me that we come out of here with two wins because these guys are preparing, they’ve worked hard all weekend long,” said Grifol, who challenged his team to be more focused at the start of the series. “Does not surprise me at all.”



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