Kevin Youkilis wasted little time introducing himself to the crowd at US Cellular Field.
Youkilis connected in his first at-bat in his new home, starting a three-homer barrage in the opening inning against Roy Oswalt and sending the White Sox to a 19-2 rout of the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
Cries of ”Youk, Youk, Youk” soon began to ring out across the stadium. And Youkilis finished with three hits and four RBIs, helping All-Star Chris Sale sail to his 10th victory behind Chicago’s highest-scoring game of the season.
”It was awesome,” said Youkilis, recently acquired from Boston. ”People caught on real quick to the chants of `Youk’ when you get up there. It was cool just to feel at home again.”
Adam Dunn followed Youkilis’ two-run shot with his 25th homer of the season and one out later Alex Rios hit his 11th to make it 4-0 lead.
In a matchup of division leaders, the White Sox finished with 21 hits, tying a season high.
”This team is built to win, and we’ve just got to do that. I think if we pitch well and play good defense, we don’t need to score 19 runs a game to do that,” Youkilis said.
A.J. Pierzynski, not chosen for the AL All-Star team managed by Texas skipper Ron Washington, hit a three-run homer off reliever Yoshinori Tateyama — his 15th of the season — to cap a nine-run fifth inning and make it 16-0. Seven of the runs in the inning were unearned, thanks to an error on Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Pierzynski insisted he was not trying to make a statement.
”It’s over and done with. There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say that is going to change anything. That’s it,” Pierzynski said. ”It was just nice to win because the Rangers have been the best team all year in the American League.”
Sale (10-2) is 7-0 in his past nine starts and hasn’t lost since May 12.
The lanky lefty will likely not pitch again before the break and then be available for the All-Star Game in a week. He allowed five hits and was charged with a run in 7 1/3 innings, but his job was made easier by the offense.
”It was like an explosion went off. It was fun to watch. I’d like to sit here and point out who did what, but through the lineup up and down, everyone swung the bat outstanding,” Sale said. ”To get that kind of run support, I’ve said it before, it kind of calms you down and you just go about your business and everything will take care of itself.”
Elvis Andrus hit a two-run double in the eighth off reliever Brian Omogrosso after the White Sox had built a 19-0 lead.
Oswalt (2-1) was pounded for 13 hits and charged with 11 runs — nine earned — in 4 2/3 innings, throwing 112 pitches in his third start since joining the Rangers’ organization in May.
”When I missed over the plate, they hit it. I threw some quality pitches they took. First inning, I fought my mechanics a little bit, the ball was leaking back a little bit,” Oswalt said.
”They hit pitches that were out over the plate. I’ve got to make quality pitches, I knew they would probably come out swinging.”
Alejandro De Aza tripled in the second and scored on Youkilis’ single. Dunn doubled home Youkilis and then scored on Paul Konerko’s single for a 7-0 lead.
Youkilis came to the White Sox in a trade last month from Boston where he was a member of two World Series winners with the Red Sox.
”He brings a lot of stuff, not just being a good player but just his approach and the way he plays. It’s contagious,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. ”He’s a pro and that’s one of the things in trading for a guy like him. You get a lot more than just numbers.”
Alexei Ramirez and Rios had two-run singles in the fifth before Pierzynski connected.
The Rangers are still 50-31 halfway through the season, the best record through 81 games in team history. They’ve won 17 of their past 23 and still hold the best record in the majors, despite the lopsided defeat.
The Rangers’ most-lopsided loss in team history was by 21 runs at Oakland in 2000 by the score of 23-2. Earlier this season they lost 21-8 to Seattle.
Oswalt said he’d put this outing behind him quickly.
”If you lose 1-0 or 10-0, you still lose,” he said. ”Don’t really look at it that much.”
NOTES: Rangers LHP Derek Holland (shoulder fatigue, stomach virus) joined the team in Chicago. He will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. The team has yet to decide if he will start on Saturday or if he will need a third rehab appearance.