DETROIT -- You know what they say about laughter, it really helps you get over a pair of lousy losses.
The White Sox offense delivered to a team in need of a light moment or two several hearty chuckles on Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Just when it appeared their bats might continue to sputter, the White Sox came to life against Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez and produced season highs in runs and hits. The outpouring helped to erase some of the disappointment of consecutive tough losses as the White Sox rolled the Detroit Tigers 12-3 in front of 39,877.
Adam LaRoche drove in four runs, including a three-run homer, and Jose Abreu had a grand slam for the White Sox, who finished with 17 hits in support of Chris Sale.
“They’re nice to have,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But the feeling is when guys get a lot of hits like that -- that part can never be understated of how good a feeling (it is) for guys to go out there and do that against a pitcher like that and a team like this. We don’t have too many of these guys because you’re usually battling it out. It’s nice for the lineup to have one of these.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
It looked as if the White Sox might be headed for another battle after Sanchez pitched out of a first-inning jam.
But the next time through the lineup wasn’t so easy.
Adam Eaton started a third-inning rally with a leadoff walk and a stolen base. Next came Melky Cabrera’s RBI double, which was followed by Abreu’s bloop single to center field. Then came a mammoth three-run blast by LaRoche, who had struck out with two in scoring position in the first.
The fun continued in the fourth inning as consecutive doubles by Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers and a walk by Micah Johnson, one of two on the day, loaded the bases (Ramirez held up to see if Flowers’ drive would be caught). Cabrera, who tied a career-high with four hits, singled in a run before Abreu crushed an inside slider for a grand slam, his third homer of the season, and a 9-1 lead.
Cabrera, Abreu and LaRoche -- who also doubled in a run in the fifth -- combined to go 10-for-16 with six runs, 10 RBIs and two homers.
“Everybody knows what we can do or what we are able to do,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “Thank God today was a good day for us. I hope that we can keep the momentum for the next game and of course, I’m not saying we are going to score 12 runs everyday. But yeah, we can do some damage to the pitchers.”
So far that hasn’t been the case.
The White Sox entered Saturday’s contest with 25 runs scored, the fewest in the majors. They produced two or fewer runs in five of their first nine contests.
The early performance is not quite what Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn had in mind when they signed LaRoche and Cabrera to a combined $67 million in contracts. Even so, the White Sox have maintained a confident front in the face of their struggles.
“These are the guys we knew we had the whole time,” Sale said. “I don’t know what I did for Rochie, but every time I pitch he’s hitting homers. And we know what we have in Abreu. That home run was the difference maker. He opened the game up.”
The outburst may have saved future pitches for Sale, who had to battle through a pair of tough jams in the first three innings involving Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
After three innings, Sale’s pitch count stood at 56. With 12 runs of support, he only needed 45 more pitches in his final three innings. Sale struck out six and gave up two runs and four hits with one walk.
Following a rough opening 10-game stretch to start, the White Sox would like to find more fits of laughter in the near future.
“It really takes all the pressure off,” Sale said. “You still have to perform and get through it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen 12 runs before. It was impressive.
“After that tough loss like yesterday, it’s nice to come here and get that deep breath, exhale a little bit and here we go.”