Youkilis, offense come alive as Sox throttle Twins


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."

White Sox Talk Podcast: How Sox fans are dealing with Cubs success


White Sox Talk Podcast: How Sox fans are dealing with Cubs success

In our next installment of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien is joined by Chris Kamka and Slavko Bekovic to discuss how White Sox fans are dealing with success on the North Side.

Later, White Sox fan and CSN producer Ryan McGuffey talks about his experience producing Cubs content. Finally, Cubs fan Nate Poppen shares his thoughts on Frank Kaminsky wearing a Steve Bartman jersey to the United Center before a Bulls-Hornets preseason game.

Check out the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast here:

White Sox coaching staff will rely more heavily on statistics

White Sox coaching staff will rely more heavily on statistics

Statistical analysis will weigh more heavily on the White Sox coaching staff’s daily decisions after Joe McEwing was elevated to Rick Renteria’s bench coach on Friday.

McEwing -- whose influence led to a 957 percent increase in defensive shifts utilized from 2013-16 -- replaces Renteria, who was named the team’s new manager on Oct. 3 after Robin Ventura announced he wouldn’t return.

Former player development director Nick Capra replaces McEwing as third-base coach while Curt Hasler was promoted from minor-league pitching coordinator to replace bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen.

McEwing’s promotion is another sign the franchise will stress the use of statistical analysis when constructing its lineup, etc., a move Ventura suggested was in progress when he said the White Sox needed a new voice. Renteria likes how he worked with McEwing last season and suggested analysis would have a big impact on their day-to-day operations.

“All the information that is provided to us plays an important part in how we move forward,” Renteria said. “We look at outcomes, which are the statistical analysis aspects. But then we are also trying to stay ahead of the curve. We do a lot of video work, trying to see if guys are changing their approaches. In terms of the shifts, we did incorporate shifts, but we also did some modifications as was to be expected when you see guys changing approaches with two strikes and things of that nature or runners in scoring position -- all those different aspects that come into play.”

Similar to many organizations, the White Sox have drastically modified how they align themselves defensively over the past four seasons under McEwing and general manager Rick Hahn. According to FanGraphs, the White Sox went from being ranked 27th in shifts implemented in 2013 to ninth by 2014 with an increase from 102 to 588. The White Sox shifted 1,079 times last season and McEwing has been instrumental in that transformation, several team sources said. It’s reasonable to expect analysis will be used more often in lineup construction and game strategy under Renteria, too. He didn’t shy away from the use of statistical analysis when he managed on the other side of town in 2014, Cubs third-base coach Gary Jones said last week.

“It’s part of our daily preparation,” Jones said. “Rick is good with it as we are right now. It was definitely a part of the equation, no doubt.”

[RELATED: White Sox announce coaching staff changes] 

Renteria cited familiarity when asked why he didn’t go outside of the organization for coaching staff hires. McEwing has long been held in high regard within the franchise and interviewed for managerial openings in Houston and Texas in 2014. Renteria suggested McEwing’s work ethic -- and how he works -- had a big impact on his promotion.

“Having sat side by side (with McEwing) going over a lot of game reviews and studying the opposition and setting up defense, I got to know him quite well,” Renteria said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s in there early looking for anything that will give us an edge. His managing experience and coaching experience also allows him an opportunity to be able to serve me well.

“It’s a good fit. We both are kind of high energy. Joey might be a little higher energy than me and I didn’t think that was possible. He brings a lot to the table.”

The White Sox announced the rest of its staff -- first-base coach Daryl Boston, pitching coach Don Cooper, hitting coach Todd Steverson, assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks and bullpen catcher Mark Salas -- would return in 2017.