White Sox

Youkilis, offense come alive as Sox throttle Twins

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Youkilis, offense come alive as Sox throttle Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- A.J. Pierzynski might just have a future as a motivational speaker.

About an hour before Wednesday afternoons series finale, a 12-5 White Sox drubbing of the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, the veteran catcher playfully jabbed new infielder Kevin Youkilis and asked when he would make a significant contribution to the club.

Youkilis, who was acquired in a trade Sunday, followed suit with his first RBI as a member of the White Sox in the third inning. He later added another RBI as he and Adam Dunn and Alex Rios paced a season-best 21-hit attack with three hits apiece.

Dunn had four RBIs as he snapped a 0-for-24 streak with a monstrous three-run homer to left for the White Sox, who won their second straight series. Rios also homered -- his 10th -- to help starting pitcher Chris Sale (9-2) earn his first win since June 9 against Houston.

"I just told him to show everyone why we got him," said Pierzynski, who tripled and had an RBI. "That was a great game. It was nice. It was good for him. Im happy for him to get that off the schneid."

Already with a 1-0 lead, Youkilis put the White Sox ahead by two in the third when he doubled high off the wall in right-center to score Eduardo Escobar.

Manager Robin Ventura admittedly enjoyed the double. But he was more taken with Youkilis next at-bat in the fifth inning, when the first baseman continued a two-out rally by fouling off three straight Nick Blackburn pitches before singling to center.

Three pitches later, Dunn rocketed a 410-foot drive off the facing of the second deck in left field for a three-run homer -- his first in 10 games.

"Thats what youre used to seeing from Youk" Ventura said. "He grinds on a pitcher, wears him out, fouls off a lot of good pitches and finally gets a hit."

Youkilis also singled in a run in the sixth inning and is 5-for-12 since he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox. Three days in, Youkilis said a sense of normalcy has returned after a tumultuous first 2 1 2 months of the season.

"Im enjoying myself," Youkilis said. "Theres no drama. Theres no (bull). Its playing and having fun. Thats my attitude going forward."

After he spent much of a 3-for-38 spell pulling the ball, Dunn determined he needed an up-the-middle approach. He also felt as if he were on the verge of a breakout game.

An inning after his homer, Dunn singled in another run to give the White Sox a 9-1 lead. He also later added an infield single and finished 3-for-5.

"I didnt care if I got jammed," Dunn said. "I just wanted to make sure the bat path was going the right way and I wasnt pulling off the ball. Today it worked. We havent been swinging the bats well the last two weeks and hopefully today gets everybodys confidence back up and we start rolling again."

Rios continued his roll after Dunns homer in the fifth with a solo blast of his own. He also had an RBI single in the eighth inning and doubled and scored the White Sox first run. Rios is hitting .341 (44-for-129) with nine homers and 25 RBIs in his last 32 games.

Escobar, Jordan Danks and Orlando Hudson all had two hits for the White Sox. Every position player had at least one hit.

The White Sox 21 hits were their most since Aug. 16, 2011 and most on the road since Aug. 30, 2010 at Cleveland.

In their previous 13 games, the White Sox were hitting .216 and had averaged three runs a game.

The offense gave Sale plenty of breathing room, though he didnt need much.

Sale did allow the first homer by a White Sox pitcher in 71 1 3 innings -- a solo homer by Brian Dozier in the fifth -- but was otherwise sharp. The rookie didnt allow a run until he had a six-run lead and limited Minnesota to two runs and six hits in seven innings. He didnt walk anyone and struck out five.

"It was impressive," Sale said of the offense. "Any time you get that kind of run support, it kind of calms you down a little bit. You go out and just execute. It was their day today."

MLB Power Rankings: It's Eloy's world and we're all just living in it

MLB Power Rankings: It's Eloy's world and we're all just living in it

Eloy Jimenez is wasting no time endearing himself to the South Side. His game-winning, broken bat homer against the team that traded him away, in his first time back, is the stuff of legend. The Quintana-Eloy trade still probably has 10-15 years of barguments ahead of it, but it's quickly becoming one of the more fascinating storylines in recent memory. 

There's apparently baseball going on outside of Chicago, though, and as it turns out, the teams that were still really good last week are still really good this week. The Astros and Yankees are actually probably getting better. The Orioles are not. 

To the rankings! 

YOU CAN SEE THE ENTIRE MLB POWER RANKINGS RIGHT HERE

Seven walks last year, now Lucas Giolito goes back to Wrigley as one of baseball's best

Seven walks last year, now Lucas Giolito goes back to Wrigley as one of baseball's best

Looking for another example of how far Lucas Giolito has come this season? Look back to last year’s Crosstown series.

Giolito pitched in games on both sides of town, but the start he made against the Cubs at Wrigley Field was emblematic of his woeful 2018 season. He actually earned the win in that game, but he walked seven batters and threw three wild pitches. By the time he exited, his season ERA was nearly 7.00.

White Sox fans know that 2019 has been the complete opposite for Giolito, and he rides into his Wednesday-night start on the North Side as one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Just like Eloy Jimenez’s game-winning home run Tuesday was the best snapshot of the White Sox rebuilding progress to date, putting last year’s start at Wrigley next to where Giolito is heading into this year’s start at Wrigley is the best snapshot of his amazing transformation.

“It was survival mode,” Giolito said Tuesday. “Now I feel like I’m on the attack. When I take the ball, I have full confidence in myself that I will come after you with really good stuff, changes in velocity and movement. Last year I went out not knowing what I had that day.

“I don’t want to walk seven, like I did last year here. I got the win somehow. The offense and defense bailed me out a ton. This year I’m much different. I’m all about filling up the zone, attacking hitters. That’s pretty much the M.O.”

The difference has been obvious to anyone who watched Giolito struggle last season to the tune of a 6.13 ERA (the highest among baseball’s qualified starters), a 1.48 WHIP (the highest among baseball’s qualified starters), 118 earned runs (the most in baseball) and 90 walks (the most in the American League). This season, he’s been dominant, on an incredible run that’s made him as good a Cy Young candidate as you’ll find. He’s got a 2.22 ERA right now, best in the AL, with 95 strikeouts in 81 innings.

Over his last eight starts, Giolito has a 0.94 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. Opposing hitters are batting just .149 against him during that span.

The dude’s on fire, a near lock to be an All Star, and perhaps most importantly, he’s totally changed his long-term perception in the minds of White Sox fans. They groaned during the walks and the runs and the wild pitches last year and cast him out of their projected future rotations. Now they’re cheering a guy who looks capable of leading that rotation of the future.

What a difference a year makes.

If those White Sox fans are anything in number and volume like they were Tuesday night, when they made Wrigley Field sound like Guaranteed Rate Field after Jimenez’s homer in the ninth, then Giolito can expect a rocking atmosphere as he looks to keep the good times rolling — and make a Crosstown moment worth remembering this time.

“I want to give the fans a show as much as I can,” Giolito said. “I like to see we’re filling up our ballpark with more White Sox fans, more people starting to pay attention. Just want to continue on that train. Our team is playing really hard and we’re happy to be here.

“My goal every time I pitch is to win, so not too much changes. But it's going to be a lot of fun, I'll say that. I'm looking forward to it.”

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