MINNEAPOLIS – Four of Adam Eaton’s 12 home runs were hit leading off a game for the White Sox, always a nice way to jump-start an offense as he did Saturday against Hector Santiago – the left-hander the Sox traded to get Eaton from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal almost three years ago.
It was the eighth leadoff homer of his career – tied for third with Alejandro De Aza for third most in Sox history.
Eaton wasn’t looking to go deep leading off the game Saturday, but he will when the time is right.
“Without giving too much away, if you swing early, knowing the pitcher and catcher and maybe in a 1-0 count, or if you know without a shadow of a doubt you’re going to get a heater [fastball], sometimes you can do some damage,’’ Eaton said. “There’s a time and a place for it, but 90 percent of the time I’m going to take as many pitches as we can in the first at-bat.’’
The risk in looking to launch one is “swinging hard and getting jammed and you look like an idiot on the second pitch of the game,’’ Eaton said.
Familiarity with the pitcher is also a factor in the approach.
“I was just talking to Trick [hitting coach Todd Steverson] about this, it’s amazing how poorly I do first time seeing a pitcher. Seeing a pitcher over and over, his arm angle and how he attacks me makes all the difference.’’
A case in point: When Eaton faced Twins left-hander Ryan O’Rourke for the first time in the sixth inning, “it was heater, two curve balls and I was out.”
Three of Eaton’s last five homers were leading off, against Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco July 29 (0-1 count), Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler Aug. 14 (first pitch) and Santiago (1-2 count), all in the first inning.
Eaton has a ways to go to before anyone nicknames him “One Nothing White Sox.” The Sox’ all-time leader for leadoff homes is Ray Durham with 20, followed by Tim Raines (nine) on the Sox list. Eaton struck out leading off Sunday’s game against lefty Andrew Albers and finished 1-for-7, but he drove in two runs on infield groundouts for his 49th and 50th RBI of the season. He scored one of the Sox’ two go-ahead runs in the 12th inning.
Chris Sale and Jason Verlander, who each gave up two runs over eight and seven innings, respectively, in their duel in Detroit on Wednesday, go at it five days later Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale is 8-7 with a 3.09 ERA lifetime against the Tigers. Verlander is 19-13, 3.87 vs. the Sox.
This and that
The Sox scored a season high for runs in their 13-11 victory in 12 innings and tied a season high with 16 hits, the second time in the series they hit that mark. Tim Anderson, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier had three hits apiece.
*Manager Robin Ventura said the next two September call-ups likely will be an infielder and pitcher.
*Ventura on broadaster Ken Harrelson, who celebrated his 75th birthday Sunday: “I have a lot of favorite Hawk stories that I can’t share with you. You wish you could. They’re that funny.”