Just score runs, baby.
That might as well be hitting coach Frank Menechino’s axiom for the White Sox’ offense. Menechino said the team’s offensive identity is “taking care of the situation at hand, whatever the situation calls for.”
It starts with just getting on base, which the Sox had done to a .342 clip going into their 4-1 victory Thursday against the Tigers to open a four-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“You got guys that are just really trying to score runs,” Menechino said. “Get on base and score runs, get the job done. And it’s really simple stuff, let the situation dictate what the at-bat is going to dictate.”
Getting actual baserunners on against right-hander Casey Mize (3-4, 3.34 ERA), who allowed five hits and no walks in seven innings, was tough. Hitting the ball out of the park wasn’t. Yoan Moncada, Jake Lamb and Yasmani Grandal built a 3-1 lead against Mize, who had allowed only two homers in his previous six starts.
Tim Anderson homered to center in the eighth against left-hander Daniel Norris to make it 4-1.
Lance Lynn (7-1, 1.23) pitched six innings of one-run ball, and Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall and Liam Hendriks (14th save) pitched one scoreless inning of relief each.
Lynn threw 89 pitches and left after six because “he had a couple of areas that were barking a little bit,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Lynn calmed concerns, saying he “got it looked at, everything’s good, good to go. So no worries there.”
The home-run binge was something of an oddity for the Sox, who were third in the majors in homers last season but eighth this year without injured Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. They’ve built a 34-22 record with the best starting pitching in the American League and by leading the majors in on-base percentage (they were 12th last season).
“Guys are taking pride in getting that run in, and we struggled early because they wanted to do it so bad and . . . were struggling with a man on third and less than two [outs],” Menechino said.
Hitters are now looking for better pitches to hit and are more patient, creating more walks, Menechino said.
“And that puts more pressure on the pitcher,” he said. “So it’s doing the job that is at hand and taking care of the situation in front of you.”
Moncada and Grandal have two of the best batting eyes on the team, and Grandal — with 42 walks, 14 hits (five singles) and a strange-but-true .137/.384/.363 batting line — might have been selective to a fault in the first two months of the season, getting into “walk mode,” Menechino said. Grandal didn’t go very deep in counts Thursday, though, grounding out his first two times up and hitting a 1-1 pitch for his solo homer.
“Sometimes a good eye works against you, and you’re taking borderline pitches for a strike,” Menechino said. “But sometimes you have to expand off the zone if they’re not getting anything in the zone just to give yourself a shot.”
Grandal’s homer traveled 457 feet, his longest in the Statcast era.
“I didn’t think it was going to go that far,” Grandal said. “I was glad I hit it hard. Whether it was a home run that barely made it or went as far as it did, I’m glad I got something up in the air. You can see what happens when I do that.”
Moncada is hitting .478/.556/.783 during his seven-game hitting streak. When the Sox’ dugout gave it to plate umpire Will Little for calling out Moncada on strikes in the eighth, Lucas Giolito got ejected.
“When an umpire tells you to go look at it and you do, and then he throws you out for telling him he was wrong after he told you to look at it, that’s kind of a slap in the face,” Lynn said. “He kind of brought it on himself and threw a guy out.”