Offense nears what Sox expected

CHICAGO -- The signs of a better offense are all around and the fact that the Chicago White Sox got things going against one of baseball’s hottest teams adds credibility to the concept.

A mini offensive awakening began over the weekend when the White Sox were facing the Oakland Athletics and has continued into the current series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

A team that entered Tuesday’s game 13th in the American League in home runs with 60, the White Sox have been heating it up with three consecutive multi-homer games. They didn’t have a single one over the previous 19 contests.

The White Sox had a modest four runs on seven hits in a 4-1 victory over the A’s on Saturday, but the biggest reason for optimism came from the home runs off the bats of Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.

On Sunday the White Sox delivered another four runs on seven hits in a 4-2 victory over the A’s. In that game, Tyler Flowers and Alex Rios went deep, while Dunn and Gordon Beckham hit doubles.

The White Sox broke free Monday for a season-best 10 runs, but that came against an ineffective knuckleball from the Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey. More proof is needed that a better day is coming, but it's a start.

Manager Robin Ventura called the current stretch of play the most amount of solid at-bats he has seen, although improving on earlier struggles wasn’t going to be that hard.

“You’re looking at the quality of the at-bats these guys are having,” Ventura said. “I think once it starts, it kind of becomes contagious for these guys and it’s good to see. It’s kind of like a light at the need of the tunnel. You’re sort of seeing what you would expect to see.”

One major key has been the improved play of leadoff man Alejandro De Aza, who entered play Tuesday batting .388 (19-for-49) with nine RBIs and eight runs scored over his last 12 games.

“Once you set the table, it puts a little pressure on the pitcher to make the right pitches,” Ventura said. “I think it just becomes contagious at that point. I think the last few games, it’s the contact he’s been making, putting it in play and then using his legs. It’s a big thing for our lineup when that guy gets on and starts putting pressure on the pitchers. A (pitcher) can’t just sit there and take his time and throw. He’s got to rush it a little bit and the last few games he’s been doing that.”

In the middle of the order, Dunn was 7-for-11 with three home runs and six RBIs over his last three games, while Konerko continues to threaten an emergence from a slow start.

At the bottom of the order, Tyler Flowers is 6-for-16 with two doubles and two home runs over his previous six games, while Gordon Beckham was 10-for-29 with five runs since returning in his first eight games back from the disabled list.

“Now you might get a game here or there where it’s (not as good),” Ventura said. “But their at-bats have been better than really the numbers have shown, I would say for the last week. That’s what you’re looking for and you’ll take that kind of effort.”