Hits can go a long way
By Daryl VAN SCHOUWEN SUn-Times Media September 11, 2012 11:46PM
Alejandro De Aza can't get a fly hit to center field by Jhonny Peralta in the 8th inning as the White Sox host the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 in Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: October 14, 2012 2:01PM
CHICAGO — At some point, and before too long, the White Sox will have to find ways to score without a home run.
While there is nothing wrong and everything good about the 184 homers the Sox hit going into their 5-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers before 26,504 fans at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night, stringing some hits together would help balance their long-ball or nothing offense.
The Sox scored all of their runs in Monday’s 6-1 win on three homers and picked up Tuesday where they left off. Dewayne Wise homered in the first and Gordon Beckham hit his career-high 15th in the third against Tigers starter Doug Fister to give the Sox and Jake Peavy a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers, looking to cut the Sox lead in the AL Central to two games, used the long ball against Peavy in the fifth to take the lead away. Austin Jackson hit a two-run homer and Miguel Cabrera belted his 36th of the season two batters later to make it 3-2.
Sandwiched around Cabrera’s homer were Peavy’s sixth and seventh strikeouts (Andy Dirks and Prince Fielder), so Peavy appeared to have good stuff. The home run pitches were on thigh- and belt-high fastballs.
Fister’s stuff, particularly his curveball, was every bit as good. After Beckham’s homer, he walked Kevin Youkilis with one out and then proceeded to retire 14 consecutive Sox through the seventh.
The Tigers had a chance to give Fister some breathing room when reliever Nate Jones walked the first two batters in the seventh, but Donnie Veal got Prince Fielder to line out with the bases loaded and Brett Myers struck out Delmon Young.
The Tigers got to the bullpen in the eighth, however, as Francisco Liriano hit a batter and gave up two singles, including an RBI liner to right by Alex Avila, to widen the Tigers’ lead. Dirks’ single drove in the Tigers’ fifth run.
Wise, a career .222 hitter before coming to the Sox, has been batting third in the absence of the injured Adam Dunn. Wise isn’t the prototypical No. 3 hitter but he was batting .287 since the Sox re-acquired him. At first a fill-in for Alejandro De Aza in center, he started his 25th game for the Sox on Tuesday.
Ventura said he toyed with the idea of having Alex Rios bat third with Dunn out, but a top four in the lineup of De Aza, Youkilis, Wise and Paul Konerko gives him a lefty-righty mix he prefers.
“He’s been comfortable where he’s at,’’ Ventura said of Wise. ‘‘I like him and Paulie right there.’’
Aside from the home runs, Peavy allowed four singles and pitched well with nine strikeouts. He threw 117 pitches and was lifted with two outs in the sixth after he walked Jhonny Peralta.
Rios, a hero in Monday’s win with a three-run homer, went into the game needing two homers and four RBI to set career highs. Rios hit 24 homers for Toronto in 2007 and drove in 88 runs for the Sox in 2010. But like everyone else besides Beckham and Wise, Rios had no luck with Fister through the first seven innings. Those were the only Sox hits.
After last season’s .227 average, 13 homers and 44 RBI, Rios is not only being talked about as a Comeback Player of the Year candidate but the Sox’ most valuable player.
“He’s always believed he’s a good player,’’ Ventura said. “Once it starts he’s been able to sustain it and that’s the one thing. He has that confidence to sustain it all year long.’’