Keuchel’s comments light fire under Sox in victory vs. Tigers
On Monday, left-hander Dallas Keuchel aired out his teammates.
On Tuesday, the White Sox responded. Almost immediately.
Eloy Jimenez blasted his way out of a 4-for-35 slump by lifting a three-run home run to rightcenter field in the first inning — a poke that came two at-bats after Jose Abreu had doubled home Tim Anderson — to spark the Sox to an 8-4 victory against the Tigers.
‘‘I don’t know how players respond, but I know one thing: We took care of business today and played hard,’’ Jimenez said of the Sox, who improved to 9-9.
In the fourth, Edwin Encarnacion — who had missed six consecutive starts with soreness in his SC (shoulder) joint — kept it going by hitting a homer to left. And Jimenez wasn’t done, slicing a linedrive single inside the right-field line in the sixth to score Abreu, who had singled.
Jimenez’s hit widened the Sox’ lead to 6-2 after a two-run homer by Austin Romine against Sox lefthander Gio Gonzalez in the fifth had put the Tigers on the board.
It was a much-needed victory for the Sox, whose 5-1 loss Monday — their fifth defeat in six games — prompted Keuchel to say they were going through the motions and not bringing it on every pitch.
‘‘It was a great meeting [after the game Monday],’’ Gonzalez said. ‘‘We all woke up with more chip on our shoulders and more fight. The entire lineup looked great. Plays were made around the horn. It looked like a White Sox win. It was good for Dallas to take that responsibility.’’
‘‘He’s exactly right,’’ catcher James McCann said of Keuchel’s comments. ‘‘Even in a 162-game season, there has to be a sense of urgency. If you go through the motions, you’re going to end up looking up in September and chasing the team in first place. It’s even more important in a 60-game season.’’
Gonzalez allowed two runs in 4‰ innings. Taking no chances with having Gonzalez face Miguel Cabrera for a third time, manager Rick Renteria lifted him in favor of right-hander Jimmy Cordero with two outs and a runner on shortly after Romine’s homer. Cordero ended the inning, and right-hander Matt Foster pitched two perfect innings with four strikeouts after that.
Foster has opened his career with 7‰ scoreless innings and has struck out 13 of the 26 batters he has faced.
Renteria has encouraged his players to police each other since last season, so he didn’t take issue with Keuchel’s words. Keuchel shared his concerns in the clubhouse before taking them to the media.
‘‘It’s one of those things that you encourage, you embrace it,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘We’re in a different stage in our point of growth as a club, as an organization. We’re wanting to continue to have guys now push each other. We’ve been pulling guys from games, talking to guys, screaming at guys. We’ve been doing it for a long time now.
‘‘Basically, players have to look themselves in the mirror. If you feel that you’re one of those guys that’s not giving what they should be giving, if you’re honest with yourself, you know who it is, you know who you are.’’
After Foster, right-hander Zack Burdi pitched a perfect eighth. But right-hander Ian Hamilton (two runs allowed) had to be rescued by right-hander Steve Cishek to finish it off. Cishek retired both batters he faced.
Third baseman Yoan Moncada, whose 21-game on-base streak came to a halt, has been dealing with general soreness — it was apparent Tuesday — and likely will be rested in the day game Wednesday.
‘‘We’ve been pushing him and pushing him,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘Don’t be surprised if he’s not in the lineup.’’
The Sox’ Eloy Jimenez gets a high-five from teammate Edwin Encarnacion after his three-run home run in the first inning Tuesday against the Tigers at Comerica Park.