The White Sox's body language never looked so good to manager Ozzie Guillen as when Jim Thome rounded the bases Friday night.
Thome launched a three-run homer in the third inning off Jeff Niemann that struck the second catwalk above the right-field scoreboard at Tropicana Field. Several Sox players believed Thome's homer traveled more than 500 feet.
"I don't know if they have enough meters to measure it," Guillen quipped after the Sox cruised to a 9-2 victory in Tampa Bay.
Thome's homer tied him with Mel Ott for 21st place on the all-time home run list with 511. The homer more than helped the Sox distance themselves from a tough loss in Baltimore.
"We have a special thing going on," Guillen said. "The way we lost last night and the way we traveled to get here late … to respond this way, it's a great sign."
After a slow start, Thome has rebounded by going 3-for-10 with two home runs, four walks and six RBIs in his last three games. He also raised his lifetime batting average at Tropicana to .327.
The Sox scored four runs in the third and added four more in the fourth that quelled any worries after a 6-5 loss to the Orioles in which they built a three-run lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning.
"We didn't carry that loss to this game," Guillen said.
The players responded quickly to Guillen's pregame challenge to show some life.
•Catcher A.J. Pierzynski unsuccessfully argued that Mike DiFelice intentionally stuck his left elbow into a Javier Vazquez pitch in the second.
• Carlos Quentin's hustle forced rookie third baseman Evan Longoria to rush a throw that resulted in a two-base error and ignited the four-run fourth.
• Juan Uribe, in an 0-for-13 slump, had two hits, including an RBI double in the fourth.
• Pablo Ozuna, starting at third base in place of Joe Crede, sprinted down the left-field line to catch Eric Hinske's pop in foul territory in the eighth. Ozuna also had two hits and provided a sacrifice bunt during the four-run fourth.
"One thing is expectation, and another is doing it," Guillen said. "And they did it."
All the support helped Vazquez (3-1) win his third consecutive start. Vazquez had his 15-inning scoreless streak snapped in the sixth, and his walk to Nathan Haynes snapped a streak of 74 batters without issuing a free pass. But he gave up only six hits and two runs over 61/3 innings.
Vazquez pitched out of a jam when he induced Jason Bartlett to hit into an inning-ending double play in the second that came after a double, a hit batsman and a botched rundown on a squeeze bunt that loaded the bases.
"That was huge back then because it was a 0-0 game," Vazquez said. "If they score one run, it could have been a lot different."
Matt Thornton and Nick Masset helped the bullpen rebound with 22/3 scoreless innings. The blowout enabled Guillen to pull starters Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera after the top of the fifth.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times