White Sox notes: Aggressive approach jumpstarts Rios

White Sox notes: Aggressive approach jumpstarts Rios
July 10, 2013, 5:15 pm
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DETROIT -- Alex Rios normally prefers to go deeper in the counts in his at-bats.

But with the way his plate appearances had gone of late, Rios decided last weekend in Tampa to get more aggressive early in the count.

The approach helped the White Sox outfielder on Tuesday night as Rios tied both a franchise and American League record with six base hits, including four off Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

Rios, who is 45th among 88 qualified batters in the AL with 3.82 pitches per at-bat, per ESPN.com, saw a total of 12 pitches over six at-bats on Tuesday.

“I like hitting deep into the counts, but when things aren’t going right, the results aren’t going to be there,” Rios said. “Recently I started being a little more aggressive and swinging at first pitches and earlier in the count. You force yourself to do it to see if you can get yourself going again.”

[RELATED: Rios' six hits land him in record book]

Rios accomplished his mission.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the first batter to have four hits off Verlander in a game; he’s also the first White Sox player to record six hits in a nine-inning game since Lance Johnson on Sept. 23, 1995 and first in the majors since Adrian Gonzalez on Aug. 11, 2009; and also became the fourth player in baseball history to finish with six hits and two steals and is the first since at least 1900 to have five singles and a triple.

“It’s one of those nights every time you go up there you’re counting it in your head, trying to figure it out,” manager Robin Ventura said of his efforts to keep track of Rios’ hits, of which he had three over the final two innings. “There were a lot of hits last night. Especially the way he was going, going the other way, it seemed like eight. It was a great night and it was fun to watch.”

Rios, whose 18-game hitting streak earlier this season is tied for the longest in the AL in 2013, had no homers and five RBIs in the 24 games before Tuesday. He raised his batting average 14 points to .281. He hopes Tuesday is the start of another good run.

“I’ve been putting better swings on certain pitches,” Rios said. “I feel like I’m being a little more aggressive under control, but it is what it is and hopefully I can bring back that consistency I had earlier this year.”

More offensive madness

The White Sox established season highs in runs (11) and hits (23) as well as runs (7), hits (9) and consecutive hits (7) in an inning on Tuesday. The 23 hits were the team’s most since the White Sox had 24 on May 25, 2009, against the Angels and most against the Tigers since Aug. 31, 1926, when they finished with 23. According to STATS LLC, the White Sox are the first team since at least 1974 to score 10-plus runs on 15-plus hits over the eighth and ninth innings.

[MORE: White Sox finally support Quintana in rout of Tigers]

“Last night we save up a month full of whatever we hit found a hole,” Ventura said. “Kepp rolled over one, it was like a swinging bunt. I think luck was part of it, but I think you’d rather have that. If you put it in play something good is going to happen and even if you hit it hard it’s going to be at somebody. So it’s something you’d like to see continue, as far as that feeling of putting it in play hard something good will happen.”

RISP success

Since June 1, the White Sox have hit .295 (86-for-292) with runners in scoring position, the second highest mark in the AL and third overall in baseball in that span. The run has raised the team’s overall average with RISP from .228 to .259.

The team’s .259 average with RISP is 11th overall in the majors. It’s .266 average with RISP and two outs is fourth in the majors.