White Sox spoil Vlad's return to Angels
Jim Thome still has the photograph of Mike Schmidt grabbing his hand and raising it aloft as the two of them stood at home plate at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium when the Phillies played their final game there in 2003.
The two sluggers will always be linked because of that moment, which Schmidt viewed as a symbolic passing of the torch. Thome made certain he acknowledged the Hall of Fame third baseman on Monday night after passing him on the career home run list with a three-run shot that helped the Chicago White Sox rout the Los Angeles Angels 17-3.
"Getting the opportunity to meet him and be a part of that was very special," Thome recalled. "Anytime you can associate your name with the greats, like a Mike Schmidt, it's a true honor and very humbling because you know what they've done for the game.
"To have Mike Schmidt do that at the last game at the Vet, when he lifted my hand, was one of the better feelings of my career, for sure. Mike is class. Maybe the ball will go next to that picture now. It'll be pretty neat."
Thome and Schmidt both hit 30 or more home runs in nine consecutive seasons. Thome's streak is still alive.
"It's unbelievable, really, when you hear the names of the guys he's passing and putting in his rear-view mirror who are legendary," teammate Paul Konerko said. "You've got to sit back sometimes and just realize that you're playing with a legend. I mean, Jim's such a normal guy and such a humble guy, and just like any other teammate. But you still realize that his place in history just keeps climbing."
John Danks (4-3) breezed to the victory after Thome helped stake the left-hander to an 11-3 lead in the third with his 549th home run and eighth this season. The five-time All-Star also had an RBI single during Chicago's 24-hit attack, which included four each by Scott Podsednik and Alexei Ramirez.
Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko also went deep to help support Danks, who allowed three runs, four hits and a career-high six walks in six innings. Dye drove in four runs and Ramirez had three RBIs for the defending AL Central champions, who spoiled the return of slugger Vladimir Guerrero to the Angels' lineup.
Guerrero was 0-for-4 in his first game since April 15, after being sidelined because of a torn pectoral muscle on the right side of his chest. The two-time defending AL West champion Angels were 25-15 in his absence, and currently trail first-place Texas by three games.
Ervin Santana (0-2) retired only three of the 13 batters he faced in his third start of the season, and left the game after just 41 pitches trailing 7-3 with no one out in the second inning. The right-hander, who missed the first 32 games of the campaign because of a sprained elbow, gave up nine hits including Dye's 12th home run.
"Everything was OK but they just hit everything," Santana said. "I located my fastball, my breaking ball, but they hit it. Every time they saw a white thing, they just hit it. I'm not the only pitcher that's happened to. That happens to everybody. Next time, I'll come out and try to do my job better."
Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, who slammed into the fence at Dodger Stadium catching a drive by Matt Kemp in Sunday's 10-6 win and left that game two innings later with tightness in his right leg, was back in the lineup. He spent the night back in his hometown of Pine Bluff, Ark., so that he could attend the funeral of his 94-year-old grandmother, Zelma Louise Hunter.
Santana's first 21 pitches resulted in three runs and five hits during the opening inning. Dye and Thome had RBI singles and Carlos Quentin added a run-scoring double to center field over Hunter's head. But Quentin felt some irritation in his left foot the way to first base - a recurrence of plantar fasciitis - and had to leave the game for a pinch-runner.
The Angels tied it in the bottom half, but Chicago regained the lead with four runs in the second - including Dye's homer into the upper tier of the double-decker bullpen in left field. The White Sox tacked on four more in the third, including Thome's three-run shot to right field on a 2-1 pitch from Rafael Rodriguez. Luckily for Thome, a disgusted Angels fan threw the milestone baseball ball back onto the field.
Bench coach Joey Cora managed the White Sox for the third straight game. Ozzie Guillen was in Caracas, Venezuela, where his father-in-law died on Saturday and was buried on Sunday. Guillen is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday.