Dunn's two jacks power Sox to series-opening win
Slugger leads the way for season-high 10 runs in heavy Chicago fog
CHICAGO -- Once the dense fog finally cleared after a delay that spanned an hour and 10 minutes at U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago designated hitter Adam Dunn rewarded the home fans for their patience.
Dunn slugged a first-pitch, no-doubt home run over the right-field fence for his second big fly of the night, and the White Sox went on to win Monday night's series opener against Toronto, 10-6.
"It's tough to sit here each and every day and tell you how good you feel, and you look up and it's 0-for-4," said Dunn, who entered play on Monday with a .165 average. "Tonight was good. It felt good, but it feels better to get this game in and win."
Dunn finished the night with a career-high four hits, three runs and five RBIs as the centerpiece of the White Sox highest scoring output of the season. It was also Chicago's third straight win, a welcome run of success after the team lost seven of eight games on its last road trip to drop to last place in the American League Central.
All Robin Ventura's team needed to get its bats going was a sloppy, foggy game like the White Sox manager grew accustomed to growing up in California.
"That's normal for California as far as fog," Ventura said. "Here I haven't seen it. I played a lot of high school games like that. I got a lot of hits that way."
Dunn said he'd never played in conditions so poor, but even in the fog he recorded his first four-hit game since May 11, 2011. While players said it was difficult to see in the outfield, Dunn's hits left little doubt, especially his 444-foot home run in the third inning that ESPN actually recorded over 450 feet.
"If that one didn't go out, I was just going to keep running," Dunn said. "I don't know where it went, but as long as they go over I don't care."
At first, it looked like the White Sox might have left their game in the clubhouse following the delay. The fog caused visibility to become unbearable, and the umpiring crew halted play with Chicago batting with a 4-2 lead and the bases loaded following Dunn's homer in the third. When play resumed, Gordon Beckham broke for third on a 2-2 pitch, and the Blue Jays easily gunned him out to end the inning while he was attempting to retreat to safety.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista then launched his second home run of the game, a three-run shot that gave his team a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth. Dunn then switched the momentum immediately with his second homer of the night.
White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod needed every bit of run support he could get. Chicago's offense had backed him with zero runs over his last two starts but scored in bunches on Monday. Axelrod only lasted four-plus innings and allowed six earned runs on eight hits while giving up three home runs. Ventura said the ball wasn't coming out of Axelrod's hand the same after the delay, but the right-hander didn't make any excuses.
"Physically I felt fine," Axelrod said. "I just got hit around. I'm not going to blame the delay or anything like that."
Axelrod also said his visibility was fine to home plate, even with the thick clouds gathering on the field, but it was difficult to see where balls were hit off the bat.
"Those fly balls I was kind of cringing every time," he said. "It was nice, too. I didn't see all those home runs go out, so that was cool."
Toronto starter R.A. Dickey also ran into trouble when he returned from the break. He said he tried to stay warm during the delay, threw a jacket on and rode on a bike to keep his legs moving.
"I knew I was going to have plenty of time, as much time as I needed out there to get my arm loose again," Dickey said. "But the way I felt was a non-issue, I just didn't execute some pitches when I needed to."
He struggled to find his control all night, and clearly didn't have his best knuckleball. Both of the pitches Dunn took out of the park were Dickey's signature pitch, and Chicago piled on 10 hits and plated seven against the 38-year-old right-hander, who was coming off his best outing of the season when he nearly threw a complete game shutout on Wednesday.
The White Sox offense didn't make life easy for the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. Axelrod surrendered a two-run home run to Bautista in the second at-bat of the game, and center fielder Alejandro De Aza, who entered Monday's game hitting .386 with seven RBIs in his last 11 games, quickly responded. Dunn scored on catcher Hector Gimenez's sacrifice fly early in the second inning and then De Aza plated two more with a two-out single to give the White Sox a 3-2 lead.
Then, just before the delay, Dunn added to the lead with his towering drive out of the park. It was Dunn's second multi-home run game of the season, with the last one occurring on May 15 at Minnesota.
Chicago outlasted a scare when reliever Matt Lindstrom walked the bases loaded, but Ventura relied on a familiar arm to get his team out of the mess. Jesse Crain induced a Melky Cabrera popup to end the inning and escaped another jam in the eighth for his 26th consecutive appearance without allowing a run.
"You get that lead and you start mixing and matching with guys," Ventura said. "Jesse again coming in the situations he's been coming in, he's been big."
But in a battle of offensive production, Toronto caught the White Sox at the wrong time. Chicago has now hit seven home runs in its last six games after hitting five in the previous 11 games.
Ventura said he'd take fog every day if it meant the kind of offensive output he watched on Monday. He also said he'd be happy to wear the team's 1983 throwback jerseys every game if his team needed to "win ugly," as the '83 team's slogan described, to score that many runs.
"If that's what it is, I will take fog," Ventura said. "Even walking over here, I was trying to figure out who started tonight. It makes for a long night."