Surging Pierzynski powering red-hot Sox

A.J. Pierzynski has already set a career high with 21 home runs this season. Brad Penner/US Presswire

The Chicago White Sox have won 10 of their past 13 games overall and enter Tuesday 1 ½ games ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central lead. Their recent success has been powered by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who is one of the hottest hitters in baseball.

Since July 30, Pierzynski is batting .381 with five home runs and 12 RBIs. Only Albert Pujols (6 HRs, 13 RBIs) has more totals in the majors over that span.

This season, Pierzynski has provided the White Sox with extra pop in a lineup that already consists of the current MLB home run leader Adam Dunn (31 HRs), Paul Konerko (18) and Alex Rios (18). Pierzynski is second on the team with 21 home runs, which is already his single-season career high (his previous high was 18 in 2005). Pierzynski’s 62 RBIs puts him on pace to set a career high in that category as well (his previous high was 77 in 2004).

From July 30 through Aug. 5, Pierzynski recorded a home run in five consecutive games he played in, including a pinch-hit go-head home run in the seventh inning in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Angels. That matched the White Sox record for most consecutive games with a home run, a streak that ended Monday night against the Kansas City Royals.

But his RBI streak continues. Pierzynski hit an RBI double in the bottom of the second inning in the White Sox’s 4-2 win over the Royals on Monday. That extended Pierzynski’s RBI streak to six games, one shy of matching the record for most consecutive games with an RBI among White Sox catchers since 1920 -- a mark he matched earlier this season of seven games from April 9-18.

Pierzynski is the only player with multiple RBI streaks of at least six games this season, and the first MLB catcher to have multiple such streaks in a single season since Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009.

One of the main reasons for Pierzynki’s recent hot streak has been his ability to dominate pitches down and outside. Prior to July 30, Pierzynski hit just .200 with one home run in 83 games on pitches in that area. Since that date, Pierzynski is hitting .600 with two home runs on such pitches.

Pierzynski’s recent power surge is supported by his increased isolated power. Isolated power measures a player’s extra bases per at-bat. In his last six games, Pierzynski’s isolated power is a soaring .762, a major increase from his isolated power of .222 in his first 83 games this season.

Look for Pierzynski to continue his hot hitting against Royals starter Bruce Chen on Tuesday night. In 34 career at-bats against Chen, Pierzynski has posted a .433 batting average with two home runs and four RBIs against the Royals’ left-hander.