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."

Preview: White Sox host Rays in series opener tonight on CSN+

Preview: White Sox host Rays in series opener tonight on CSN+

 

The White Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (3-11, 7.11 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (7-11, 4.86 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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White Sox grieve Jose Fernandez's death along with rest of MLB

White Sox grieve Jose Fernandez's death along with rest of MLB

CLEVELAND -- Whether they knew him or not, the overwhelming sentiment throughout the White Sox clubhouse on Sunday is that baseball was robbed of one of its most likeable players when Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was tragically killed in a boating accident.

Known for his vivid celebrations on the field and his wide, endless smile, Fernandez made a strong impression, whether with his skillset or infinite love of the game. White Sox players had their eyes fixed on several televisions littered throughout the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field on Sunday during a morning press conference confirming the death of Fernandez, 24, and two others.

White Sox reliever Dan Jennings played with Fernandez for two seasons. Though he enjoyed a 3-0 White Sox win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, Jennings said his happiness was muted as he mulled the death of Fernandez, who was killed when the boat he was on slammed into a jetty in Miami Beach, Fla.

“He seemed invincible is what it was,” Jennings said. “A lot of guys know what I mean when I say he was invincible on the mound. There were days he was unstoppable, and that’s how you viewed him is invincible. It’s too hard to really put into words what he meant to the game and what he meant to Miami.”

“I just hope to love the game as much as he does some day. It’s tough to do, but he did. He had fun, and he loved the game more than anything.”

Todd Frazier remembers how approachable he found Fernandez in their limited interactions. The two met in the outfield one day after they faced each other for the first time and joked around.

“I was like, ‘Dog, you don’t throw me any fastballs,’ ” Frazier said. “He was like, “Why would I throw you fastballs?’ And we just started laughing.

“That’s the kind of guy he was. You could come up and talk to him. He had an infectious smile and just had a love for the game that I hope every ballplayer could have. It’s a terrible, terrible day.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Fernandez’s death reminded him of the March 22, 1993 accident that took the lives of Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. Only pitcher Bob Ojeda survived that crash and Ventura remembers the shockwaves it sent through clubhouses throughout baseball.

“I can still remember … just how sad that was,” Ventura said. “You don’t have to know them personally. But they’re within their group, and it breaks everybody up. It really does.”

White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon didn’t have a chance to meet Fernandez, a pitcher he admired for his competitive style and bulldog mentality. But another reason Rodon looked up to Fernandez is for the way he seemed to play the game with such joy. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said during a press conference Sunday that Fernandez enjoyed the game like a Little Leaguer does.

Rodon recently spoke about rediscovering his own joy of baseball. Naturally, Rodon’s thoughts drifted toward Fernandez when he took the mound on Sunday.

“You could tell,” Rodon said. “We had a beautiful day to come out and play and sad to say that one person is never going to get to play again. He’ll be very missed. You can’t take these days for granted. Just hope you guys go home today and tell the people you love, you love them. Losing a person like that is hard.”