Sure, Adam Dunn was downright terrible last season. And yes, he has a staggering 207 strikeouts this season… but would the Chicago White Sox be a playoff contending team without him? Absolutely not.
Despite his low batting average of .210, Dunn continued to prove his importance to the 2012 White Sox with his 40th and 41st home runs Monday night. The two long balls gave the good guys a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians. With this win, the Sox maintain their delicate one game lead over the Tigers. The first of his blasts came in the sixth and cut the Indians lead down to one run.
It is interesting to point out that this 3-2 score came with some controversy. During a questionable call in the fourth inning, Alejandro De Aza was called out at home when he tried to score from first off a Kevin Youkilis double. However, the replays during the game showed that De Aza was clearly safe at the plate. This would have tied the game 1-1 and was obviously a very important play. This close to the end of the season every play is crucial and calls like this hurt.
Luckily, the Sox wouldn’t have to wait long too be on the other side of an umpire mistake. In the very next inning, Alex Rios was called safe as he stole his 23rd base of the season. Fortunately for him, the replay showed that the umpire could have been incorrect with his call. Shortly after, Rios was driven home by Alexei Ramirez. This poetic justice actually did tie the game one.
The second of Dunn’s home runs may have been his most important swing of the season and possibly his career. Despite now having six seasons with 40+ home runs, Dunn has surprisingly never been to the playoffs. That being said, the Sox had lost five straight going into tonight which dropped the White Sox division lead from a somewhat comfortable three games to a shaky one game. Before Monday’s game, it was reported that he gave his teammates an optimistic reminder that it is Detroit that needs to worry and that they need to just relax, play good baseball, and win some games. Apparently, he took his own advice. His three-run homer in the eighth put the Sox up 5-3 and gave them the offense they needed to break their skid. It can be certain that no one wants this playoff spot more than him and his play tonight certainly reflects that.
Brett Myers (3-7) received the win tonight as Chris Sale received his first no-decision in three months. Sale went seven innings, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits. While not his usual dominant self, Sale still held it together long enough for the struggling Sox offense to find their stride.
The White Sox have nine games left to play and have a main goal at this point to avoid spoilers. The Tigers got a dose of spoilage Sunday afternoon when they dropped both games of a doubleheader to the 90-loss Twins. Right now, the Sox need to ignore the scoreboard and simply produce some runs during these final weeks.
After the game, Dunn agreed that his three-run bomb was his “biggest career hit to date.”