Youkilis ignites offensive fireworks for White Sox

Youkilis ignites offensive fireworks for White Sox

Youkilis ignites offensive fireworks for White Sox
CHICAGO -- Kevin Youkilis has a new home uniform and from the way it looked on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, the former Red Sox star looks pretty good in pinstripes.

The pinstripes of the White Sox, that is.

Youkilis launched a two-run homer, his fifth of the season and first with the White Sox, in his first at-bat of his home debut with Chicago and helped spark three rallies that led to a 19-2 rout of the Rangers (50-31).

"It was a great night," said Youkilis, who went 3-for-6 with four RBIs, including a two-run homer in a four-run first inning. "It was awesome just to get that huge lead and letting Chris do his job out there on the mound and sling it up there. It was fun. Couldn't ask for a better start to the homestand."

The White Sox (43-37), who got another strong performance out of starter Chris Sale (10-2), simply torched the Texas pitching staff.

That included starter Roy Oswalt to the tune of 11 runs (nine earned) on 13 hits over just 4 2/3 innings. Oswalt also allowed three home runs, all in the first, while A.J. Pierzynski clubbed his 15th of the season off Yoshinori Tateyama to cap a nine-run fifth for Chicago.

However, it was Youkilis' sterling home debut that highlighted the night. Aside from his offensive contributions, he also made a couple of nifty defensive plays at third base -- all things that his new teammates and Chicago's front office knew he was capable of doing prior to acquiring the veteran on June 24 in a trade.

"I don't think people really realize how big of an acquisition Kevin is," said Adam Dunn, who blasted his 25th homer right after Youkilis' shot in the first and finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs. "I really think he's going to help us in the second half a lot, when he kind of gets comfortable. He's just a really good player."

If Youkilis isn't comfortable on Chicago's South Side after this performance -- and the chants of "Yoooouuuukk!" that accompanied it -- then he might never settle in. However, he already looks like a perfect fit manning the hot corner for a team that's been sorely lacking an offensive presence from that spot all season.

Youkilis can also play first base and appears to be mixing into his new team pretty well. The deal might also be proving to be the new start that Youkilis needed after faltering in Boston through the first half of this season, battling injuries and offensive struggles. His woes in Beantown are what ultimately led to his trade to the Windy City, which prompted a pregame question about feeling like he needed to prove himself as a star player all over again.

"In this game you have to prove yourself until the day you retire," Youkilis answered. "Every year there's expectations to fulfill and sometimes you fall short of them and sometimes you exceed them, so it's part of the game. You can't focus on that. You've just got to play. For me, I just try to go out and play. I haven't played up to my capabilities yet this year and hopefully in the second half I can."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura also hopes that's the case, but likes the whole package that Youkilis provides.

"He brings a lot of stuff, not just being a good player but just his approach and the way he plays," Ventura said. "It's contagious and it's great for our lineup and great for our team to have him in here. He's a pro and that's one of the things in trading for a guy like him. You get a lot more than just numbers and history. You get a good player that people feed off. He makes your team better in a lot of ways."

Youkilis went just 1-for-14 in a four-game series against the Yankees on the road this past weekend, but broke out in a big way against Oswalt and the Rangers on a hot, muggy night Tuesday that had the ball jumping off bats.

"That's why he's [hitting second]," Ventura said. "I just think he fits in right there. We've got Dunn behind him and [Paul] Konerko. He's batted there before. He can handle the bat, move guys around, get a big hit. You also want him to bat as many times in a game. When that lineup turns over, you want him there."

Youkilis said he doesn't really care where his name is slotted, just as long as it's in the lineup.

"It doesn't matter where you hit in my mind," he said. "Just going out there and being in the lineup every day is an enjoyable thing. A lot of guys would kill to crack the lineup every day here, so for me ... I just go and try to have good at-bats no matter where I'm hitting in the lineup and if I do that I'll help this team win."

On this night, he also happened to be just one of many White Sox having those good at-bats. The White Sox put on a hitting exhibition at the expense of the Rangers.

The back-to-back homers by Youkilis and Dunn were the seventh time the White Sox have gone deep in successive at-bats this season, while the 19 runs set a franchise high in a single game against the Rangers. It was such an impressive display that another sterling outing from Sale was a bit overshadowed -- which he didn't seem to mind.

"It was like an explosion went off," said Sale, who allowed just one earned run through 7 1/3 innings before leaving to a standing ovation for his efforts. "It was fun to watch. I'd like to sit here and point out who did what, but through the lineup up and down, everyone swung the bat outstanding. To get that kind of run support, I've said it before, it kind of calms you down and you just go about your business and everything will take care of itself."

Pierzynski's three-run shot in the nine-run fifth, which made it 16-0, was also noteworthy because of the comments by both him and Texas manager Ron Washington this past weekend regarding the White Sox catcher being left off the American League All Star team.

A fielding error by Ian Kinsler with two outs in the inning was also a key part of the disastrous frame for the Rangers -- who managed just five hits of their own against Sale, who improved to 10-2. In the last two games between these teams at U.S. Cellular Field, the White Sox outscored Texas by a whopping 29-2 count.

"Same thing you saw," Washington said. "We got the ball over the plate, they didn't miss. They came out swinging the bat. Every center-cut ball we put on that plate they certainly didn't miss it. We were thoroughly beat tonight. Just couldn't stop their offense."

Elvis Andrus drove in two runs for the Rangers in the eighth inning as the lone Texas highlight.

White Sox reliever Brian Omogrosso, one of nine rookies on the roster, made his Major League debut and got his first strikeout by tossing 1 2/3 innings to close the game out for Sale.

Brian Hedger is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.