Rios continues career year at the plate

Alex Rios gave his team a big lift on Friday as the Sox gained a game on Detroit. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

CHICAGO -- How Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham values a teammates is based on more than simple production.

Beckham likes teammates who can hit and defend, but he loves the ones who can hit, defend and care about winning as much as he does.

That’s why Alex Rios is among his favorites.

On Friday, Rios continued to display that talent and desire to win as he homered, doubled, singled, drove in the game-winning run and scored twice in a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field.

“He’s been pretty awesome all year obviously,” Beckham said. “Just a good teammate and wants to win. That’s something you don’t always see when guys just kill it. You don’t always see when they really want to win.

“Big lift for him tonight and the team. He had been hitting fine, but he did the stuff tonight that he hadn’t done in four or five days. It was good to see. We need him back killing it like he was tonight. Definitely exciting for the rest of the five games, I guess.”

The difference Friday for Rios was he drove in a run and came across the plate twice. During the White Sox’s previous nine games, eight of which were losses, he had one RBI and two runs.

Rios failed to come through in his first at-bat on Friday. With runners on first and third with two outs in the first inning, Rios hit into a fielder’s choice.

Three innings later, Rios made up for it. With the game tied at 1-1, Rios led off the fourth inning. After four consecutive changeups from Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, Rios quickly turned on a fastball and drove into the left-field stands.

The home run not only proved to be the difference in the game, but it also added to Rios’ career season. It gave him 25 home run and 89 RBIs, both single-season highs. He hit 24 home runs in 2007 and had 88 RBIs in 2010. A year ago, he had 13 home runs and 44 RBIs.

Rios is also hitting .301 this season. His season-best is .302 in 2006.

When Rios was notified of his numbers, he took a moment to reflect on them and then pushed them aside.

“You know what, I’m not thinking about that right now,” Rios said. “I’ll check my numbers when the season's over. But it feels good. It feels good to be able to help the team get some wins.”

Rios has been the catalyst behind a number of the White Sox’s wins this season because when Rios gets one hit in a game, he often adds one or two more. His home run Friday was followed a double, which led to him scoring the game’s final run, and finally a single. It was his team-best 40th multi-hit game and 15th three-hit performance of the season.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura has touted Rios all season, and he continued to do so on Friday.

“He’s been doing all that year,” Ventura said. “It’s just one of those he’s had a year like that for us. He’s come up big in a lot of situations. He’s been pretty dang good all year.”