With the White Sox, Dunn was forever in a (strike) zone, as Sox fans know too well. Before Dunn arrived, the season whiff record for a Sox batter had been 175; Dunn averaged 180 Ks in his four years with the team. Those 720 strikeouts were all the more exasperating because of the $56 million the Sox were paying him for his four years. It turned out to be the worst free-agent signing by far in the club's history.
Dunn was liked by his teammates, though, and two of them, Sale and John Danks, showed their fondness Monday with a gift—an orange golf cart with a logo of the Texas Longhorns, Dunn's college school, on the side. The pitchers presented it to Dunn in the Sox trainer's room. Dunn was touched, though it wasn't clear that he liked the cart itself. "Everybody says it’s the thought that counts and it’s true," he told reporters later, adding that "I probably won’t sell it immediately."
Dunn gave the A's the lead in the fourth last night by doing something he rarely did for the Sox—he hit the ball to the left side, beating the radical infield shift to the right he nearly always faces. His bouncer into left field scored Coco Crisp from third with the game's first run.
Former Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was pitching for the A's. (In Toronto, his former teammates, clobbered by the Blue Jays 8-0 Monday and 9-2 Tuesday, polished off the series last night with an 11-1 loss.) Samardzija was tough as usual, shutting out the Sox for seven innings. But Sox rookie Chris Bassitt limited the A's to their fourth-inning run, and Samardzija, having thrown 114 pitches, departed after seven with the A's up only 1-0.
Against reliever Luke Gregerson, the Sox loaded the bases with two out in the eighth, and up came Avisail Garcia, the promising 23-year-old right fielder, batting where Dunn might have been if he were still on the Sox. Garcia looped the second pitch into center, and the Sox were suddenly on top, 2-1.
Dunn led off the ninth against Jake Petricka, a 26-year-old right hander. Petricka had a fine 2.73 ERA and was leading the Sox in saves, but he had only 11 of them, and he was 0-4. A long one would tie it up. Dunn watched Petricka's first four pitches, two balls and two strikes. He fouled off the fifth. He found the next pitch appealing. His hips unwound, releasing the power of his six-foot-six, 285-pound frame. His bat was a blur, searching for the ball.
Then he walked back to the dugout. Petricka got the next two hitters as well, and the Sox were winners.