Eaton’s 13th homer all White Sox can muster in loss to Twins

SHARE Eaton’s 13th homer all White Sox can muster in loss to Twins
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Adam Eaton watches after hitting a two-run home run during the fifth inning Friday night. AP

Here’s what’s right about Adam Eaton’s second season with the White Sox: The 5-8 leadoff man, who cleared the center field wall for his 13th homer of the season in the Sox’ 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, is hitting with some pop.

Here’s what’s wrong with the White Sox’ season: Eaton is second on the team in home runs, in a hitter’s park, no less.

With 118, the Sox rank second to last in the major leagues in long balls. That’s a far cry from Robin Ventura’s first season as manager, 2012, when the Sox hit 211 to help him enjoy his best season (85-77). These Sox, who fell to 66-73 before a paid crowd of 15,641, are pace for the fewest homers by the Sox since they hit 110 in 1992.

“You’re happy for [Eaton] but you’d like to have some other guys hit more than him, too,’’ Ventura said. “This ballpark, as we can see, you can get some homers here. We have to improve in that.’’

Jose Abreu has 27, and after Eaton, it’s Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche with 12 apiece. And make no mistake, the long ball matters. When the Sox go deep, they’re not bad – 41-37.

Eaton, who had six homers in 211 major league games before this season, is doing his share. He downplayed the surge, chalking it up to playing “in a small ballpark where the wind blows out a bit.”

“At the same time, this has been kind of a rough season for a lot of guys,” he said. “It has been the story of the season, inconsistency here and there.”

It was a long ball kind of night. Trevor Plouffe hit one against Sox starter Erik Johnson and one against losing pitcher Nate Jones (1-2), the latter breaking a 2-all tie in the eighth. Former Sox Eduardo Escobar homered against Zach Putnam, who came off the disabled list before the game (right groin), in the ninth.

Eaton’s homer in the fifth inning against Ervin Santana (5-4) scored Mike Olt (two singles and a walk) for the Sox’ only runs.

Making his second start, Johnson pitched in heavy traffic, needing 113 pitches to steer through five innings of one-run ball.

“They were patient with him,’’ Ventura said. “He got a bit erratic but he worked himself out of situations. He looked good for as much traffic as there was out there.’’

“I thought I threw my fastball very well today in all five innings that I threw,” Johnson said. “But then I had to find my breaking stuff later. Started throwing some good change-ups later. But early it was a lot of down sliders, but when I needed it I put my fastball by someone.”

The International League’s most valuable pitcher at AAA Charlotte walked five, allowed four hits and struck out six. He left with a 2-1 lead, but Daniel Webb allowed a tying RBI double to Torii Hunter in the Twins’ sixth.

The Twins, picked by almost everyone to finish below the Sox in the AL Central, improved to 73-67. They are 12-5 against the Sox.

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