If A.J. Pierzynski had started this hot last year, he would have had a better chance of making the American League All-Star team and being grilled in San Francisco.
"That's OK," Pierzynski said through a smirk Friday when asked about missing a chance to visit his least favorite city.
Pierzynski led a resurgent offense that is quickly distancing itself from its disastrous 2007 by driving in five runs, three on a tie-breaking homer in the seventh, to lead the White Sox to an 8-5 victory over the winless Tigers.
It was Pierzynski's first five-RBI game since Aug. 13, 2004, in Philadelphia when he was playing his only season for the Giants.
The Sox's 13-hit attack and ability to counter each Detroit comeback attempt stoked memories of their productive 2006 team that compensated for a fatigued pitching staff.
Through his first four games, Pierzynski is 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles and two home runs. For all the hoopla over the acquisition of Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera, Pierzynski has been the Sox's hottest hitter.
He poked doubles to right and left field off left-hander Nate Robertson in his first two at-bats, leading to runs in the second and third innings.
His production has helped stretch out the bulk of the Sox's offense that leaned heavily on Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye (who made a game-ending diving catch in right field) the last two seasons.
"He should get a lot of chances if Jim, Jermaine and me are doing our jobs," Konerko said after his first two-hit game of the season. "He could be the key to the team. When you have a guy in the sixth hole doing what he's doing, that's a pretty tough sixth spot."
Pierzynski's ability to spray the ball for hits stems from applying coach Harold Baines' theory, seconded by hitting coach Greg Walker, of driving the ball where it's pitched, rather than trying to pull every pitch.
"In the past, he always gave at-bats away and got himself out," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Pierzynski provided his teammates with a memorable hit after former Sox pitcher Jason Grilli surrendered a double to Konerko and a single to Dye on the first two pitches of the seventh.
On Grilli's third pitch, Pierzynski launched a homer deep into the right-field seats that gave the Sox an 8-5 lead.
"It's a little bit of the new guys," Pierzynski said of the energy radiating throughout the Sox's clubhouse. "A little bit of it being a new season, a fresh outlook, a different attitude in spring training, a different attitude on this team. Plus, a lot of guys were embarrassed, let's be honest.
"We stunk last year, myself included. I wasn't very good. We have a lot of professional guys who want to win and expect to win."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun