Adam Dunn gives Sox holiday cheer with walk-off HR
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org July 4, 2013 10:28PM
Sun-Times sportswriter Daryl Van Schouwen. January 27, 2012 | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: August 6, 2013 6:30AM
Call them unrealistic or optimistic beyond reason. Call them delusional, even.
Maybe the feel-good buzz of a walk-off, 3-2 victory and a big group hug around Adam Dunn at home plate altered their senses, but the White Sox aren’t giving up just yet.
Their fan base has. So has the media. For the most part, general manager Rick Hahn probably sees the writing on the wall as well — although Hahn has held out as long as possible to declare his team dead — but the Sox themselves won’t roll over and die.
They might die, but they won’t roll over.
A series victory against the Baltimore Orioles, capped by Dunn’s homer to left against Tommy Hunter with one out in the ninth, delighted a Fourth of July crowd of 21,321. It marked the Sox’ first series victory at U.S. Cellular Field since they swept the lowly Miami Marlins in late May.
It also sent the Sox off on a tough road trip that starts in Tampa, Fla., and continues in Detroit and Philadelphia after a makeup game Monday against the Cubs at home.
At 14 games below .500 and sitting dead last in the American League Central, the Sox (34-48) themselves are the only ones counting themselves in anything. The only buzz surrounding this team lately is over who will get traded before the deadline and how will Hahn go about pulling off a massive fix-up project.
For one holiday afternoon, the Sox escaped all that with a fun win.
“There is nothing better in sports, in my opinion, than having 25 guys waiting for you at home plate,’’ said Dunn, whose average is up to .207 with 23 homers and 57 RBI. “This is something we can build on. I’m not writing this year off yet. We’re halfway through the season. Go out and play and see what happens.’’
Dunn had been beating himself up for making an error behind first base on a grounder by pinch hitter Matt Wieters. It played a part in a two-run eighth by the Orioles that tied the score at 2 and buried lefty Jose Quintana’s chance for a victory after he had pitched seven scoreless innings.
With two strikes on Wieters, Dunn moved off the line and it cost him. The ball was hit to his left and he couldn’t glove it.
“It does suck, especially in that situation,’’ he said.
All Dunn could do was hope for a chance to make amends with his red-hot bat.
“I felt terrible,’’ he said. “The way the guy pitched. It’s a good win but it’s bad because you feel real bad for a guy like that. Every start he pitches his butt off and we blow it for him. That’s a bad feeling.’’
It would have been worse if they lost.
“That would have been awful. But we didn’t.’’
Relying mostly on locating his 92 mph fastball, Quintana retired 19 of the last 20 Orioles he faced, including the last 13.
Nate Jones gave up the two runs in the eighth. He walked Brian Roberts to start the inning, then gave up a double to Nate McLouth. Dunn’s error and a sacrifice fly by Nick Markakis scored the runs and ruined any chance of a win for Quintana.
“When you play well for a few games it’s refreshing and it gives us a little boost, a little momentum,’’ said Alex Rios (2-for-4, stolen base), who drove in the Sox’ first run with a single and scored the second on a single by Dunn.
“We can get in a good stretch, and we haven’t played Detroit, either, and if we catch them when we’re hot, it might be a good thing. Anything can happen at this point.’’