They came from all points of Missouri to see native son Joe Crede on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium, and the White Sox rookie didn't disappoint. Crede hit a pair of home runs to power the Sox to a 10-6 victory over Kansas City before an announced crowd of 9,555, almost all of whom appeared to be either a friend or relative of the Sox rookie.
"It seemed that way," Crede said with a grin. "There weren't many Royals fans."
Crede left about 20 tickets to people close to him and told another 30 or 40 who made the 3½-hour trip from central Missouri to fend for themselves.
"I told them they shouldn't be hard to get," he said.
The Sox cranked four home runs off Royals ace Paul Byrd to give Dan Wright the victory, as Joe Borchard hit the Sox's first inside-the-park home run in almost two years and Paul Konerko added his 27th homer. Keith Foulke shut the Royals down with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, giving him a 0.40 earned-run average in his last 22 2/3 innings.
But the night belonged to Crede, who has nine home runs since his July 30 call-up, averaging one for every 14.8 at-bats.
Manager Jerry Manuel figured Crede to be a 15-20 home run per year player, but increased that projection to 20-25 after seeing him the last six weeks. And in 2004?
"Oh. Maybe 75-85," Manuel said jokingly.
Even Crede is semi-shocked at his power totals.
"To be honest, coming into this year, the most home runs I'd hit in a year was 21 in 2000," he said. "I really didn't have any expectations of hitting 30 home runs."
Before this year, the most homers Crede had hit as a professional was 21 at Double-A Birmingham in 2000. Combined with his 24 homers at Triple-A Charlotte, Crede now has 33 on the season with three weeks left.
"That's probably the most surprising thing for me," Manuel said. "Now he seems to be really getting extension. Every time he hits one, it appears to be a home run."
Wright improved to 11-12, despite allowing six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Manuel said he was "erratic," but credited him with not giving up the lead again after the Royals erased an early 2-0 deficit.
Wright left with two outs in sixth with a 7-4 lead, and Matt Ginter let both of his inherited runners score before Foulke stopped the damage.
The Sox staff that posted a sterling 2.39 earned-run average during the seven-game winning streak appears to have regressed since. Over the last six games, the Sox have a 6.79 ERA.