The White Sox, the lowest-scoring team in the American League, batting .244 entering the game, would finish with 11 runs and 23 hits. In a game started by Justin Verlander. They would get 14 hits over those final two innings and win 11-4.
The star of the show was Alex Rios, who would go 6-for-6, tying an American League record for hits in a nine-inning game. If the White Sox are looking to trade their right fielder they should be making phone calls right now.
"It's been the most fun we've had in a quite a while," Rios said. "We've had some tough times, but it shows we haven't quit."
With the White Sox at 35-52, they're one of the few teams that should be sellers. The question is: Will they trade Rios? Outside of Chris Sale, who isn't going anywhere, there isn't much on the White Sox roster that will interest other teams. Paul Konerko hasn't hit, Alexei Ramirez has been terrible and Jake Peavy is rehabbing from a left rib fracture. Relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton will draw some interest, but otherwise there's Rios, hitting a solid .281/.333/.448 after his big game. He's signed through next season at $12.5 million with a 2015 club option for $13.5 million, a deal that looks reasonable in today's market, assuming Rios doesn't return to his .227 funk of 2011. He's 32 and should extract some value, as a team would have to make only a one-year commitment beyond this season.
I think GM Rick Hahn should sell high. This White Sox team is bad, the farm system may be the weakest in the majors and who knows what Rios will give you the next two years. His value isn't going to be higher than it is now and with so few good bats available, several teams should have interest in Rios. The Pirates, in particular, could use a right fielder.
As for Verlander, he gave up 12 hits, the most he has ever allowed in a home game. In the eighth, Rios led off a base hit on a first-pitch slider and Adam Dunn then hit a 3-2, 94-mph fastball over the wall in right. The past couple of years, Verlander has been known to crank up that fastball to the upper 90s late in the game; but he hasn't done that as much this year and on Tuesday averaged just 91.3 mph on his fastball, with a peak velocity of 95.5. He can still succeed with that -- and has -- but he has been hit harder this year, his swing-and-miss percentage is down just over 2 percent from last year and his overall fastball velocity is down 1.5 mph.
Concerns? Maybe a little, only in the sense that we're comparing Verlander to himself. Maybe he's just saving something for the second half. But maybe there's just been some wear and tear from all the high-pressure innings of the past two seasons. He certainly didn't have the fastball to blow away Rios or Dunn on Tuesday. He has one more start before the All-Star break, but how Verlander pitches in the second half is becoming one of the most important post-break stories.