White Sox fed off ‘playoff atmosphere’ at Cell

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Monday’s crowd brought an electricity to U.S. Cellular Field that has been hard to come by this season.

The players felt it, appreciated it and hope to get more of it.

“It was really good and we have to thank [Chris] Sale because they came here to see him,’’ Sox first baseman Jose Abreu said through a translator. “That energy was not only good for Sale but for us because you feel more excited, it gives you motivation. It’s something different. It’s always good to play for a crowd that is cheering for you. I hope they continue to come here and support us. It motivates us.’’

A crowd of 24,583 came to see Sale pursue a strikeout record (he didn’t get it but pitched a complete game and won) and a matchup with former Sox Mark Buehrle.

Adam LaRoche said it felt like a playoff game.

“That will hopefully give us some more energy and spark us to keep this thing going,’’ LaRoche said.

Fans were chided on some social media for not coming out in greater numbers, although it was the largest Monday crowd (not including Opening Day) since 27,948 watched the Yankees play the Sox on Aug. 5, 2013. And Monday’s crowd, juiced up from the first pitch to the last, made up for any perceived shortage in numbers with its energy. There were fewer fans in the seats — 17,028 — Tuesday.

Besides Sale, they haven’t had a lot to cheer about.

“It’s exciting to get that sort of support,’’ Abreu said. “When you feel the crowd you try to do your best and play for them, to give them the same kind of support they are giving you.’’

As one fan tweeted, “keep winning. That motivates us to motivate you.”

Give that man a contract …

It seemed to be a coincidence at the time, but Adam Eaton went into a Cactus League hitting “slump” about the same time he signed a $23 million extension. His slow start in April (.192 average, .242 on-base) can be attributed to a 26-year-old pressing because of it, manager Robin Ventura said.

“Early there was some of the contract that he wanted to show everybody that they got what they paid for,’’ Ventura said. “You can overdo it. His stuff is about grit and going out and being a pain in the rear end, hustling and running into walls and doing the stuff that allowed him to get that contract. You don’t need to do more, you just need to do that. And sometimes guys get caught up trying to do more.’’

Eaton, hitting .282 over his last 22 games, seems to have that out of his system now.

“Now he’s back to putting it in play, hustling,’’ Ventura said.

Probables set for Cubs

Here’s how the starting pitchers will match up for the series against the Cubs this weekend at Wrigley Field: Friday, Carlos Rodon vs. Kyle Hendricks, 3:05 p.m.; Saturday, Chris Sale vs. Jon Lester, 3:05; Sunday, Jose Quintana vs. Jake Arrieta, 1:05.

Davidson set for AAA home run derby

Charlotte third baseman Matt Davidson will participate in the AAA All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday in Omaha. Davidson, second in the International League with 13 homers, won the event in Reno, Nevada, in 2013.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @cst_soxvan

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