CHICAGO (AP)—A week ago, Nick Swisher was barely hitting .200, hitting coach Greg Walker was seemingly on the chopping block, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was firing away at everyone.
How quickly things have changed.
The switch-hitting Swisher homered from both sides of the plate and the Chicago White Sox completed a dominant four-game sweep, beating the Minnesota Twins 7-5 on Monday for their seventh straight victory.
Paul Konerko hit a go-ahead home run and Chicago sent Minnesota to its fifth loss in a row. The White Sox outscored the Twins 40-15 in the series, which included this makeup game of an April rainout.
“I’m not surprised the way we hit them because we know we have a ballclub that can hit,” Guillen said. “I’m surprised because we played against a pretty good ballclub and we did what we did. It’s not easy to sweep anybody, especially in a four-game series.”
The White Sox went 7-0 on their homestand and increased their AL Central lead to 6 1/2 games over Minnesota. They have hit 18 home runs during their winning streak and head to Detroit for a three-game series.
Chicago kicked things off last Tuesday against Kansas City after Guillen blew up in Tampa Bay, bemoaning his poor lineup with a few choice words. The hitters answered on the field.
“I don’t think we had a choice, Ozzie said so,” Swisher said, laughing at the turnaround. “There for a while, things weren’t going our way. All we care about are wins and losses.”
Swisher has eight homers, but just one from the right side. He has homered from both sides six times in his career and is the seventh White Sox hitter to do it. He is hitting .387 (12-for-31) during an eight-game hitting streak, bumping his average up to .228.
The former Oakland Athletic sparkplug credited the beleagured Walker for his resurgence. Walker was rumored to be on his way out of town after the Sox slumped badly in Tampa Bay two weekends ago and Guillen mentioned his name in his rant.
“The way he’s gotten on me, he’s got me working so hard,” Swisher said. “Somewhere along the line I lost the confidence I used to have, and he’s helped me regenerate it and get that back into my game.”
Swisher, back to his normal jovial self, wasn’t done.
“And also I started wearing Toby Hall’s pants,” he added. “So there’s another one.”
Yup, things are back to normal for the usually-loose White Sox, who have the biggest lead in baseball.
“I’ll say that we’re the best team this week,” said John Danks, who got a no-decision Monday. “We’ve been playing well. If we play the way we’re capable of, we have a good shot in this division.”
Orlando Cabrera had four hits for Chicago, matching his career high.
The White Sox trailed 5-4 when Cabrera doubled against Matt Guerrier (3-2) to start a three-run rally in the seventh. Alexei Ramirez singled and Carlos Quentin tied it with an RBI grounder. Konerko followed with his eighth home run of the season.
“It’s a good feeling,” Konerko said. “That was one of those balls I was surprised it went over the fence.”
Konerko has started to fight his way out of a two-month slump, picking up seven hits, including two doubles and a triple, in this series.
“We had a really good homestand and I think the main thing for us is not to lose momentum in Detroit,” Konerko said.
Matt Thornton (2-1) pitched one scoreless inning to get the win in relief of Danks, who gave up four earned runs and eight hits in six innings.
Jenks, who hadn’t pitched in five days, escaped his own jam after Carlos Gomez led off with a double and Alexi Casilla singled. Joe Mauer grounded weakly back to the mound and Jenks started a double play, and Justin Morneau grounded out to end it.
“It was a good ballgame for a while,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We made it interesting there at the end. We held them down for a while, but then we just didn’t make enough good pitches at the end there.”
“This was an important series for sure, but it wasn’t the last series,” Cuddyer said. “It wasn’t the last time we’re going to have a chance at them.”
Perkins gave up five hits and three runs in 5 1-3 innings.
White Sox 3B Joe Crede was picked co-AL Player of the Week with Texas outfielder Milton Bradley. Crede hit .611 (11-for-18) with five homers, two doubles and 12 RBIs in the week ending June 8. … With their hits in the ninth, Gomez extended his hitting streak to 10 games and Casilla pushed his to 11. … The White Sox hadn’t swept a homestand of seven or more games since Sept. 5-11, 1983.