Even without one of their veteran leaders in the lineup, the Chicago White Sox were able to turn in their best offensive performance of the season.
The White Sox, who are missing first baseman Paul Konerko, hope they can build off of their most recent hitting outburst as they continue a three-game home series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
Konerko landed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday for the first time in his career. He suffered a strained left oblique muscle while hitting in the batting cage Sunday.
Konerko, who has already dealt with a hand injury this season, is hitting just .215 with eight homers and 30 RBIs.
“If it’s not the year I wanted, I can deal with that,” he said. “I’ve had other bad years, years that weren’t up to my capabilities. It’s not fun. You’d rather have great years every year, but the main thing is the team’s doing well.”
With Konerko absent, the White Sox (39-31) maintained their 4 1/2-game AL Central lead over Minnesota by pounding out a season-high 19 hits in Tuesday’s series-opening 16-5 rout of Pittsburgh (34-37). Eight starters finished with at least two hits.
Jim Thome added a three-run homer, giving him 521 for his career to tie him with Willie McCovey and Ted Williams for 16th all-time.
Chicago’s 16 runs were two more than its total from the previous six games, of which the White Sox lost five.
“We’ve been swinging the bats pretty well and then we hit a little rut there and kind of slowed down,” Thome said. “Hopefully we’re picking it back up.”
The White Sox hope to provide similar offensive support for Mark Buehrle (3-6, 4.47 ERA).
The left-hander didn’t receive a decision despite a stellar outing on Thursday, when he limited Detroit to one run in eight innings of a 2-1 road defeat.
Buehrle is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two career starts versus the Pirates, with both appearances coming in Pittsburgh.
Pirates left fielder Jason Michaels, who drove in two runs Tuesday, is batting .345 (10-for-29) with two homers and four RBIs versus Buehrle.
Pittsburgh has dropped three of its last four road games to fall to 13-22 away from PNC Park, and Wednesday’s starter Tom Gorzelanny (5-5, 6.65) is 1-4 with a 9.23 ERA in six road outings.
At home on Thursday, the left-hander allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-5 win over Washington.
Gorzelanny is 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in five career interleague starts, but has never faced the White Sox.