Swisher sends White Sox past Tribe
First baseman caps solid month with pair of home runs
CHICAGO -- Nick Swisher is beginning to look more and more like the player the White Sox wanted when they traded for him this past offseason.
The switch-hitting first baseman dominated Indians pitching Monday night, smacking home runs from each side of the plate en route to a 9-7 White Sox win at U.S. Cellular Field.
The first of the two homers came with the bases loaded in the third inning for his second grand slam of the season. Facing left-hander Jeremy Sowers, Swisher lined the 1-1 pitch 345 feet to left, just clearing the wall in front of the White Sox bullpen.
"I think I'm finally enjoying the ride," said Swisher, who has seen his average rise nearly 40 points in June after struggling the first two months of the season. "A lot of things happened to me early in the season, and obviously had never before. Through all those trials that I went through, I think they made me a better player and a stronger person. I think your true colors come out when you can deal with adversity."
Swisher's average stood at .201 when June began. He leaves the month behind with a .239 average and a slugging percentage that finally has reached the .400 mark.
His second home run came during the bottom of the sixth off Tom Mastny. Nobody was on base for the dinger, but it did mark a first in team history. Swisher is the only White Sox hitter to homer from both sides of the plate twice in the same season. He also did it on June 9 against the Twins.
"If you ask any switch-hitter, it's very rare -- besides Chipper Jones right now and the streak he's got going -- that you feel good from both sides of the plate at the same time," Swisher said. "I've been lucky and feeling pretty good from both sides.
"As long as this organization has been around, to be the first of something is a pretty special thing," Swisher added.
It was Jim Thome that got the momentum going for the White Sox in the bottom of the first. The designated hitter belted a three-run homer on the first pitch from Sowers to give Chicago a 3-1 lead. It was career No. 523 and his second homer in as many days.
And, of course, doing it against his former team didn't hurt, either.
"Always nice [to do it] against them," Thome said. "But to win the game is even better, when you do well like that, especially against teams in our division."
After scoring three runs in the first inning and five in the second, thanks mostly to the home runs by Thome and Swisher, Indians manager Eric Wedge came out to collect Sowers (0-4). The left-hander was banged up for eight earned runs in three innings. Every White Sox batter that reached base against him came around to score.
|"Jim and Swish start swinging the bat the way they can do it, we're going to score a lot of runs. We got a couple guys on fire, and then you add two more guys there, it'll be nice to see."|
-- White Sox manager|
"Jim and Swish start swinging the bat the way they can do it, we're going to score a lot of runs," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We got a couple guys on fire, and then you add two more guys there, it'll be nice to see."
White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (9-4) had struggled in his past two starts, but he showed signs of improvement in picking up the win on Monday. He gave the White Sox six innings and allowed four runs, though only three were earned. He also struck out a career-high 10 batters.
But the right-hander couldn't figure out Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who collected a career-high five hits, including two doubles and a home run.
"I left a couple fastballs over the plate, and he's just geared up for that," Floyd said. "That first inning, for me, I just tried too hard. After that inning I settled down and relaxed a little bit more.
"I was throwing my offspeed [pitches] better than I have in my past couple starts for strikes. That's something I've struggled on my past couple starts. To come back and throw it for strikes, even behind in the count, that's what I look at."
Nick Masset entered the ninth inning with a 9-4 lead, but a costly Joe Crede throwing error opened the door to a three-run frame. Two of the three runs Masset allowed were unearned. Matt Thornton came in to clean up and earned his first save of the season.
It was Crede's 16th error, marking the most he's had during any season of his career.
Guillen isn't concerned.
"I think the error today was tough; it just took a funny hop on him," Guillen said. "I talked to him a couple weeks ago about throwing the ball, moving his feet, trying to get him better. No matter how many errors Crede makes, I think he's the best third baseman in the league."
The White Sox, who won their fifth straight and seventh in a row at home, improved to a season-high 12 games over .500.
David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.