He was hitting .212 and in a 3-for-22 slump entering Tuesday night’s game, but he hit a pair of two-run homers to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 7-4 victory.
“It’s hard when you’re struggling,” Thome said. “That’s what makes this game so tough. You have to understand there are going to be hard times and they’re sure not fun to go through.”
Thome trails Mike Schmidt by one for 13th place on the all-time home run list.
D.J Carrasco (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings in relief of starter Clayton Richard(notes) and struck out Mark DeRosa(notes) and Shin-Soo Choo(notes) to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
Bobby Jenks(notes), who was fined by Major League Baseball earlier Tuesday for admitting to intentionally throwing behind Texas’ Ian Kinsler(notes), pitched the ninth inning, recording his eighth save in as many chances.
Cleveland, which defeated the White Sox 9-4 on Monday night, has lost five of six and has won two straight once this season.
Thome’s first-inning homer to center followed a walk to Jermaine Dye(notes) and gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead. His home run in the fifth came after Dye’s double and landed in the seats in right, putting Chicago ahead for good, 5-4.
“I’ve been working hard to make a few adjustments,” Thome said. “The last couple games I’ve been feeling a lot better.”
Playing at Progressive Field didn’t hurt. Thome has 183 career home runs in the ballpark that was his home field from 1994-2002. The slugger began his major league career with the Indians in 1991. His last two-homer game came in Cleveland on opening day last season.
“It’s always nice to come back here,” Thome said. “I’ve always felt comfortable hitting in this ballpark.”
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said his team needed Thome’s power surge.
“We need a big bat, especially with the way we’ve been swinging,” he said. “He does damage with the game on the line.”
Sowers was impressed.
“I think he has a lot of people’s number throughout his career based on the statistics he’s put up,” Sowers said. “He’s extremely good, he’s been around a long time to have seen pretty much everything and he’s smart at the plate. He swings at balls in the zone and doesn’t chase balls out of the zone. My situations, both those balls were up and he hit him a long way.”
Thome walked in the third and seventh innings, giving him 1,567 and moving him into sole possession of 13th place on the all-time list.
Sowers, losing for the second time in two starts since being called up from Triple-A Columbus last week, gave up a solo homer to Jayson Nix(notes) in the third. The left-hander allowed five runs and seven hits in four-plus innings.
“I think I struggled a little bit with command and keeping the ball down,” he said.
The Indians are in last place in the AL Central with a 12-22 record.
“We have to keep trying,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Now we have to try and win the series. We’re working to string something together.”
Richard, moved into the rotation when veteran Jose Contreras(notes) was sent to Triple-A Charlotte, was making his first start of the season after 12 relief appearances. The left-hander allowed four runs in 3 1-3 innings.
OF Carlos Quentin(notes) was scratched from the Chicago lineup with a sore left heel. … LaPorta started for the first time in five games, playing first base. Considered one of the top hitting prospects, LaPorta was acquired from Milwaukee for pitcher CC Sabathia(notes) last season. … Free agent RHP Luis Vizcaino(notes) threw to hitters before the game. He’s expected to sign with the Indians soon. … Cleveland RHP Jake Westbrook(notes), who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw 20 pitches in an extended spring training game Tuesday.