CHICAGO -- With the Chicago White Sox playing on the North side this weekend, expectations were high that a much-maligned Sox player would get things going with the bat at The Friendly Confines. While the focus was on the struggling Adam Dunn potentially breaking out, it was another oft-criticized White Sox who stepped up.
For the third game in a row, and the second against the Cubs, Juan Pierre delivered the game’s key hit, driving in the only run in the Sox’s 1-0 victory. Pierre, known for more for scoring runs than knocking them in, said he’d never had a stretch like this before.
“Always good to be on the RBI end of it, I don’t drive in many runs,” Pierre said. “But when you get the chance to do it, especially a day like today with [Matt Garza] throwing like he was, it’s definitely a big situation.”
On Friday, Pierre tripled in two runs to give the White Sox a 6-4 lead they would never relinquish. It was more of the same on Saturday, as Pierre singled in Gordon Beckham in the sixth to tally the White Sox’s first run, and hit, of the day.
If you’re attempting to throw a no-hitter at Wrigley Field, Pierre is apparently not the man you want to face. On June 13, 2010, Pierre singled to lead off the ninth inning to end Ted Lilly's bid for a no-no.
“I’m familiar with this park, I played a full season here,” Pierre said about his success on the North side. “The situation [arises] to come through and help the team win, it’s just good for the team.”
Pierre’s .320 on-base percentage is hardly ideal for a leadoff hitter, but the fact that he’s crept up to the league average is progress.
As far as White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is concerned, all the talk that Pierre should be benched was never the right way to look at things. Pierzynski, never one to shy away from making a bold statement, has backed his teammate all the way.
“I told you guys [Friday], I’ll take him up there in a big situation over just about anybody on our team,” Pierzynski said. “That’s what JP can do, he puts the ball in play and makes things happen. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
For his part, Pierre has holds no ill-will towards those calling for him to be taken out of the lineup.
“It comes with the profession. I know when you don’t do the job, then stuff gets written about you,” Pierre said. “When you do the job, then you find something else to criticize.”
While the bulk of criticism of the Sox has been focused on Pierre and Dunn, Pierre may have temporarily removed himself as a target. Once again, Dunn went hitless in four at-bats, including three more strikeouts to bring his season total to an eye-popping 103. After that performance, Dunn clearly has a long way to go to get out of the crosshairs of the critics.