CHICAGO – You can forgive the hyperbole from a guy like Adam Dunn mere moments after saving his team with a two-run, game-ending home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
With the Chicago White Sox trailing by a run and down to their final three outs, Dunn crushed an 0-2 offering from New York Yankees reliever David Robertson well into the seats in right-center field to put to rest a marathon 3-hour, 52-minute game with a 6-5 victory.
It was the 10th time in his career Dunn has ended a game with a home run, so he speaks from experience when explaining what it feels like.
“That’s the best feeling in probably all of sports, especially after a night like tonight,” said Dunn, a former backup quarterback at the University of Texas. “I know everyone’s tired on both sides. The good news is we get to do it all over again [Saturday] at 1.”
Lulling opponents to sleep has been a new tactic this season -- and it worked to perfection Friday against the Yankees. It was the 11th time the White Sox have played a game longer than three and a half hours, making them more like the Yankees in that regard.
But that approach doesn’t work without an improved offense, and that’s exactly what the White Sox have shown this year. Even without standout rookie Jose Abreu in the lineup, and with Avisail Garcia already lost for the year, the White Sox are figuring out how to get the offense they need.
And after a mostly disappointing tenure in a White Sox uniform, Dunn has remained steady this season with a refined approach and what appears to be a new comfort level at the plate. Friday’s game-winner was his eighth home run of the season.
Behind in the count, Dunn admitted that his approach wasn’t necessarily what it would have been in the past. Instead of expecting the pitcher to try to make him chase one out of the strike zone, Dunn was ready to do damage.
“That’s got me in trouble a lot, so I try to be ready 0-2 instead of taking one right down the middle,” Dunn said.
Last season, White Sox hitters seemed as if they were each trying to carry the team by themselves, and the results were disastrous. Dunn’s comfort zone this year seems to have a lot to do with knowing there are plenty of others ready to deliver at a moment’s notice.
“There's probably some of that in there, but even the way the first part of the season started off offensively for these guys they're just continuing to stay with it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Every once in a while you'll see, I don't know if they're mini-slumps, but you go through a period where a guy doesn't swing quite as well, and they catch back on and get it. Even tonight, Dunner had the bases loaded, hit something solid to center and didn't get a hit. But he's making some solid contact consistently.”
On a night when neither team could get any offensive traction, the White Sox simply outlasted the Yankees. Adam Eaton was key in manufacturing a pair of early runs and Alexei Ramirez delivered a two-run home run in the fifth inning.
After that, though, it was quiet until Dunn got his chance to contribute.
“It seems like each and every night it’s somebody different,” Dunn said. “Obviously, Alexei and [Dayan Viciedo] have pretty much carried us all with Jose out. Everyone talks about our injuries but we’ve got some pretty good players still here.”