White Sox’ hitters heed manager Tony La Russa’s advice not to chase pitches

The Sox entered Saturday with a 35.9% rate of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, the highest in the American League, according to FanGraphs.

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Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox

Andrew Vaughn congratulates Gavin Sheets for his three-run homer in the first inning Saturday.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The combination of plate discipline and taking advantage of hitters’ counts paid off Saturday for the White Sox.

It started with Luis Robert laying off a 3-2 sinker and Gavin Sheets whacking a 3-0 pitch for a three-run home run in the first inning that set the tone for an 8-0 victory against the Tigers.

‘‘We’re a different hitting team when we do that,’’ manager Tony La Russa said, referring to the offense not chasing pitches out of the strike zone.

The Sox entered the game with a 35.9% rate of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, the highest in the American League, according to FanGraphs.

But Robert didn’t chase, and Sheets reinforced La Russa’s faith by whacking a low pitch down the middle from Tigers starter Garrett Hill over the wall in right-center field.

La Russa said his batters have practiced hitting with 3-0 counts but must be aware of getting an off-speed pitch in a fastball count.

‘‘I knew that [Hill] wanted to come to me,’’ Sheets said. ‘‘He didn’t want to get the bases loaded for [Yoan] Moncada.’’

The left-handed-hitting Sheets has hit all six of his homers this season at home and against right-handed pitchers.

Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to a season-high 14 games with a two-run double in the second. Abreu has seven hitting streaks of 14 games or longer. In Sox history, only Hall of Famers Nellie Fox (nine), Luke Appling (eight) and Eddie Collins (eight) have more such streaks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

New and improved Jimenez?

After returning Wednesday from his latest injury setback, outfielder Eloy Jimenez has demonstrated his body might be able to withstand the rigors of the final 2½ months of the regular season.

‘‘He’s really in good shape,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘He’s paid his dues. Just make sure he stays on his program, which I think he will. He knows we’re better when he’s not hurt. He’s assuming responsibility.’’

Jimenez has gone 3-for-13 with a home run and four RBI, as well as making an impressive catch in foul territory, since returning from surgery to repair a torn hamstring tendon that sidelined him for 65 games.

Jimenez, under the advice of team doctors and trainers, didn’t start Saturday and reported normal soreness after playing in three consecutive games. That is encouraging news for Jimenez and the Sox, who play doubleheaders against the Guardians on Tuesday and July 23.

Jimenez missed the first 99 games of last season because of a torn left pectoral muscle.

‘‘Sometimes when you’re younger, you get away with not crossing every T,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘And later on, you realize how important it is to make sure you stretch. He’s learning early. It will help him.’’

Rest for Anderson?

With nine games in the next eight days, shortstop Tim Anderson will get a rest before flying to Los Angeles to participate in All-Star Game festivities.

‘‘We’re aware of that and know we’re going to have to give him some time,’’ La Russa said of Anderson, who will start for the American League team July 19. ‘‘Not sure if we’ll give it to him this weekend or during the week. We’re going to have to give him a break some place.’’

On call

La Russa intimated that right-hander Davis Martin might start one of the games of the doubleheader Tuesday against the Guardians.

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