Returning Gavin Floyd, big bats help White Sox beat Twins
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org July 23, 2012 10:30PM
A.J. Pierzynski greets Alex Rios (right) after Rios’ two-run homer in the third inning Monday. | David Banks~Getty Images
Updated: August 25, 2012 6:18AM
The White Sox have one objective: winning the American League Central.
‘‘The only time I think about the wild card is when there are more teams that believe they are capable of slipping into the playoffs via the wild card, which means there are less players available on the trade market,’’ general manager Ken Williams said Monday.
The division race is tight now, with the Sox pulling within one game of the idle Detroit Tigers with a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The win in front of a sellout crowd of 37,788 on a discounted ticket night at U.S. Cellular Field ended the Sox’ five-game losing streak.
‘‘Guys play hard no matter what, but it’s a lot more fun when the place is full,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of the first sellout since Opening Day.
Williams already has made two significant deals, acquiring Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox and getting reliever Brett Myers from the Houston Astros two days ago. Myers made his Sox debut Monday, getting the last out in the eighth before Addison Reed saved the victory for Gavin Floyd (8-8).
Floyd’s return from elbow tendinitis was a focal point for Williams’ planning, as well.
He worked six innings Monday and gave up three runs (two earned) and six hits but also walked six.
Stellar defense rescued him most of the night, while home runs from Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios off Francisco Liriano (3-10) provided the lead.
‘‘The offense sputtered for the last, probably, 10 days,’’ Dunn said. ‘‘We were able to get Gavin some runs early. It was a good win, and we needed it.’’
With his 29th homer of the season, Dunn moved into sole possession of 54th place on the all-time list (394) while Konerko homered for the first time since June 29 and the first at home since June 18.
‘‘It’s nice to get the validation that the work is paying off,’’ said Konerko, who is hitting .245 since peaking at .399 on May 27. ‘‘You want to do it because you want to help the team.’’
Of equal importance was the defense turning five double plays to rescue Floyd.
‘‘If those balls get through or you don’t get those double plays, it’s a different kind of game,’’ Ventura said.
Floyd hadn’t pitched since July 7, one of his best outings of the season with 72/3 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. His tendinitis sent him to the disabled list after the All-Star break.
‘‘I was just trying to keep my focus,’’ he said. ‘‘It was nice to get back out there and feel good.’’
Pitching will stay on Williams’ mind as July 31 nears. But it will be less a concern if left-hander John Danks continues to show improvement from a strained shoulder.
‘‘I think the best thing that can happen for us is to have John Danks continue to feel good,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Hopefully we can get him on the mound for a few side days heading into August and give him a little bit of a spring training-type regimen and get him back sometime at the end of August.
‘‘If we are in it at that point — and we definitely expect to be — then we’ve got a guy who is going who will be fresh and impactful in his own right.’’