A curtain call for Paulie, 12 strikeouts for Chris Sale and a sizzling home run for Jose Abreu to extend his hitting streak to 18 games were enough reasons Friday for the White Sox to celebrate the Fourth of July in style before a big home crowd.
But the explosive display by outfielder Dayan Viciedo might have the most lingering effect during the swap-meet month of July.
Just as the Seattle Mariners are stepping up their interest in Vidiedo, “Tank” put on a showy display in the White Sox’ 7-1 victory over the M’s in front of 30,297 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
Viciedo busted out of his recent slump, going 4-for-4 with a booming fourth-inning home run and made a dazzling throw in the second inning to nab Kyle Seager trying to stretch a single into a double.
The Mariners and San Francisco Giants are each pursuing Viciedo as the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline approaches.
“I just worry about coming and playing the game hard every day,” Viciedo said through a translator. “But I’m not really concerned about trade rumors. I don’t have any control over that.”
Sources say the Sox are seeking pitching to address their biggest concern. Mariners right-hander Brandon Maurer figures to be the Sox’ top target. They also would want another player in a deal for Viciedo.
The 4-for-4 was a welcome sight for Viciedo, who had just 17 hits in his previous 107 at-bats (a .159 batting average) and was hitting .197 (42-for-213) since May 1 entering the game. That slump came after he hit .348 (31-for-89) over 26 games in April.
“I feel like a few weeks ago, I started to hit the ball hard,” Viciedo said, “but just right at people.”
The Mariners’ top need is a right-handed bat for their lineup — and Viciedo fits that bill.
The M’s lack of enough right-handed bats was exposed Friday against the left-handed Sale, who pitched his seventh career complete game and second this season.
Sale, who has held left-handers to a .089 batting average (4-for-45) and no home runs this season, faced six lefty-swinging hitters (James Jones, Robinson Cano, Seager, Logan Morrison, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley) in the Mariners’ starting lineup.
M’s manager Lloyd McClendon made no apologies for stacking his deck with so many left-handed hitters. Keep in mind, right-handed batters are hitting just .215 (50-for-233) against Sale.
“To have a righty just to have a righty, that don’t mean [anything],” said McClendon, who is carrying 13 pitchers. “You need a righty that can swing the bat.”
Sale (8-1) was backed by an offense that had no trouble swinging the bat against left-handed starter Roenis Elias (7-7) and three relievers.
Designated hitter Paul Konerko belted a towering two-run homer in the eighth, Viciedo hit his fourth home run in seven games and Abreu ripped a line-drive, two-run homer to left-center in the fifth as the Sox won for the fifth time in seven games.
“It surprised me,” said Abreu, who is the first Sox rookie to hit in 18 straight games since Pete Ward in 1963. “I thought it was going to go against the fence. When I saw it went out, I have to say thank God for it. That was great.”
Abreu was beaming after celebrating his first Fourth of July after leaving his homeland of Cuba.
“It’s incredible,” Abreu said. “Sometimes, I think I’m dreaming.”