04/21/12 3:48 PM ET
Balance drills helping Dunn at the plate
By Josh Liebeskind / MLB.com
Dunn collected three RBIs on Wednesday for his first multi-RBI game since July 26. Then his biggest night offensively in almost two years came Friday, when he collected five RBIs on the strength of two home runs and a double. It's the first time Dunn has had five RBIs in a game since Sept. 24, 2010, and the first time he's recorded an RBI in three straight games since May 18-20 of last season.
"[Hitting coach] Jeff [Manto] is always thinking about new drills, and he came up with another drill that, I thought it was kind of crazy," Dunn said. "I was doing it, but when we started doing it, I started feeling getting my balance back and stuff like that."
One of the drills Dunn has been doing is taking swings in the batting cage with a medicine ball between his legs. The exercise is designed to keep a batter from lunging out in front of a pitch.
"All hitters do different drills to keep an eye and keep track, and that's one of his," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "If he [keeps having] those kinds of swings, with his ability to walk, it sets up pretty nice with just seeming like we always have guys on base."
White Sox 'pen comfortable being called on
SEATTLE -- In the long season that is Major League baseball, a starter will inevitably run into trouble.
And that is when a reliable bullpen becomes a valuable asset. Over the last four games, White Sox relievers have been as dependable as any in the league. Entering Saturday's contest with the Mariners, Chicago relievers had thrown 9 2/3 scoreless innings, a stretch that dates to April 16.
"You just got to go out there, and the main thing is go out there and throw strikes," said Addison Reed, who has thrown 1 2/3 innings of the scoreless stretch. "Usually, you're out there for one -- maybe two at the most -- innings. You can't really afford to walk guys. To go out there, it's harder to throw with runners on.
"So just get out there, throw strikes and have a short-term memory. Whether it's good or bad, the next day you're available to pitch, so whatever happened the day before doesn't really matter. If you have a bad outing and you keep thinking about it, it's just going to wear on you, and you're going to do worse the next time out there."
Added to the stress of coming out of the bullpen is the drive to pick up teammates. When Matt Thornton entered the game Friday for starter Chris Sale, he inherited a runner on second with just one out. Thornton got out of the inning without allowing a run to his name, but he did give up an RBI single that scored the runner that Sale left, cutting the White Sox lead to 6-3.
"A lot of us take a lot of pride in inherited runners and all that, but at the same time, you have to worry about making your pitch and understanding the situation," Thornton said. "I'm not overly concerned with that runner, because I care about winning the game -- I don't want that inning to extend. I don't want to nibble and walk a guy, and all of a sudden, a homer puts it to a one-run game."
As fellow relievers continue to have success, Reed believes it helps everyone else in the bullpen. It's a competitive nature, in which everyone wants to top their teammates. But it's also a friendly competition that brings them together.
"It's kind of like a mini family out there, so that kind of makes it more fun," he said. "And we're all pulling for each other and when somebody else goes out there and does well, we want to go out there and kind of match it."
Ventura sticks with what worked for White Sox
SEATTLE -- Even though the White Sox had a day game Saturday following a night game Friday, manager Robin Ventura decided to stick with the same lineup.
"Tomorrow there might be [a change], but I think when we have a game like that [last night], you come back with the same thing," Ventura said.
The White Sox scored seven runs on eight hits Friday, but exploded for six of those hits in the first two innings against Mariners right-hander Hector Noesi. Seattle started another righty in Blake Beavan on Saturday.
Alex Rios extended his hitting streak to eight games Friday with a third-inning single.
Chris Sale's career-high 11 strikeouts Friday were the most by a White Sox starter since Edwin Jackson recorded 13 on April 7, 2011.
Entering Saturday's contest against the Mariners, White Sox starters were 8-2 with a 1.57 ERA in their last 10 games at Safeco Field.