White Sox put a Big Hurt on Devil Rays
Slugger's three-run blast in eighth puts home team up for good
CHICAGO -- Frank Thomas exited Tuesday's 6-4 victory over Tampa Bay before 21,555 at U.S. Cellular Field with a .246 average and 17 hits in his first 69 at-bats since returning from rehabbing his surgically repaired left ankle on May 30.Those numbers are well below the .300 career average produced by the two-time American League Most Valuable Player, but Thomas said worries over average don't really come into play until you reach 100 at-bats. It's a little easier to accept Thomas' words at face value, given his offensive pedigree and the fact that 12 of his hits have gone for extra bases, with 10 of them clearing the fences. Home run No. 10 for Thomas came in the eighth inning Tuesday, with Scott Podsednik and Tadahito Iguchi on base ahead of him. The prodigious 418-foot clout off of reliever Lance Carter (1-2) turned a 4-3 deficit into the team's 25th comeback victory of the year and ninth victory when trailing after seven innings. The White Sox had six wins of that variety during the entire 2004 campaign. If Thomas had his choice, he would mix in a few more singles and pump that average back around .280 or .290. But he's more than happy with his current production, especially since he's not really trying to hit the long ball. "I'm just trying to hit the ball hard and good things will happen," said Thomas, who also has 18 RBIs since returning to the lineup and now has 446 career home runs. "I'm just focused on helping this team where I can right now. "If the long ball is where it is at, I'll take it," Thomas added. The White Sox's final rally began with Ameriquest Final Vote candidate Podsednik's opposite-field double over Carl Crawford's head in left field. Iguchi followed with a sharp single to right, and Carter fell behind Thomas with a slider on the first pitch to the slugging designated hitter. Carter tried to double up on the slider, but Thomas crushed the offering deep into the left-field seats. "The guy is paid to hit pitches that are terrible and that was a bad pitch," Carter said. "He's hit a lot of home runs and he got that one." While Ozzie Guillen praised Thomas for showing again why he is one of the best right-handed hitters of his time, he was even more effusive with compliments toward Iguchi. It was Iguchi who kept the inning going. It was Iguchi who once again played flawless defense at second and continued to do the little things that make this team go. The work from Podsednik and Iguchi actually made Thomas a better hitter in that particular situation.
|Frank Thomas / DH|
Weight: 275 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"I'm happy to hit with first and third and nobody out and get a good pitch to hit there," Thomas said. "But those guys have been doing it all year.""With Iguchi, every time we need to get something done, he does it," Guillen added. "If we need a double play, he makes the play. Steal the bag, get a big base hit or move the guy over. This kid is amazing the way he plays for us." By virtue of two pitches in the top of the eighth -- the second of which induced a popup from Damon Hollins -- Cliff Politte won his sixth game without a defeat. As a setup man, Politte said you take the first one or two victories picked up in this fashion. But upon reaching victory No. 6, he started to feel bad for a starter who "worked his butt off," such as Freddy Garcia on Tuesday. Garcia pitched seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, while picking up his 1,000th career strikeout in the third. He left the game trailing by one run, but extended his unbeaten streak to nine straight starts. Politte's unbeaten run has lasted the entire season.
|Cliff Politte / P|
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"I said it earlier and I'm not just saying it to pass the buck," said Politte, whose ERA dropped to 1.09. "These guys did all the work. I happened to be the lucky guy out there.Jermaine Dye homered for the third straight game, with his 19 long balls tying Paul Konerko for the team lead. The victory also moved the White Sox to 29-12 at home and 56-26 overall, pushing them to 30 games over .500 for the first time this season. For those who thought Thomas would be a disruption within this diamond juggernaut, think again. Sure, he isn't the same player from 10 years ago, with a .350 average to go with his amazing power numbers. Then again, he's also as strong of a mid-season addition as any contender could hope to add. "It's too early to be worried about my average," said the jovial 37-year-old. "I can put together a few hits in a row, and my average will jump high pretty quickly. "This has been great. After being away for so long, I'm happy to help this team win. It's a good feeling to come to the ballpark."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.