Adam Dunn went bananas Friday night.
To an extent, the whole team went bananas for a time. Seattle starter Hector Noesi was hittable, and the Sox crushed and drove him from the game in 1.2 IP en route to a 7-3 win.
But Dunn went the most bananas. He went 3 for 4 with 2 HRs (his first multi-HR game as a White Sox), and a sweet, sweet opposite-field double in the 1st inning. 5 RBI on the night for Dunn all told, and he's at the top of the list of "reasons the White Sox won" that no one bothered to actually write out.
Dunn feasted on fastballs left up in the zone all night. Not great ones; nothing outside the 90-92 mph range, and all located in place where you'd hope a functional Adam Dunn would crush it. Dunn's only out of the night came when he struckout on a mistake, high changeup, of which the general consensus would seem to be that if Dunn wasn't in such a fastball-killer mode Friday, he might have hammered that too. Last year, when he was utterly lost, that type of ludicrous mistake was all Dunn could hope for.
He's gone off like this before. The first place to reference when wondering if this was the greatest game Dunn's played in a White Sox uniform is May 11th, 2011. Dunn went 4 for 5 with a HR and a double, scored three times, and spiked his average above .200 for one of the last times all season. Hawk excitedly dubbed him "Grand Canyon" for his massive HR, and he followed it up the next night by going 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts.
Friday night took Dunn up to .265/.368/.571 for 2012, which is a stupendous line, and also hard to accept. It feels like his march back to respectability snuck up on me entirely without notice, until going in for the kill late in the night. He reached bases six consecutive times earlier in the week (mostly on walks), but also still had Jeff Manto thinking of goofy drills to snap him out of his funk. Now, bam! He's hitting dingers.
His garish strikeout rate (38.6%) and simple prior history should be enough to temper excitement, but there's some expectation of productivity when he strides to the plate now.
Also using Hector Noesi's implosion to right themselves, Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel both went 1 for 3 with a walk, and no strikeouts. It wasn't much, but considering that Morel has reached base multiple times in just one other game this season, and had only two other games where he avoided strikeouts, it was nice to see him lay off crappy off-speed pitches and work a 9-pitch walk in the 1st inning.
Ventura shows not even a hint of backing down on his confidence in Brent Morel. If anything, Robin has chosen this little battle as a chance to display his commitment to his players, so any drifting toward being a major league hitter for Morel should be cherished, as the Sox will need to jump at every opportunity he provides.
Beckham, while long since removed from any position of responsibility in the offense, was similarly commendable in reeling in a flagging Noesi for his shank double in the 1st, after an 8-pitch at-bat. Friday was only the third time this season Beckham reached base multiple times in a game, and the fourth in which he's avoided a strikeout.
It's far from the situation of Dunn, where a legitimate hot stretch has to be put into context; Morel and Beckham are providing blips in an otherwise pristine track record of hopelessness.
It's more than we had before Friday.