Adam Dunn never homered off a left-handed pitcher last year. Today, he hit two in three at-bats off Royals southpaw Bruce Chen.
Dunn delivered a two-run homer in the first and a grand slam in the fifth inning, giving him four homers in 24 at-bats this spring. He’s struck out just once and walked nine times.
After signing a big four-year, $56 million deal with the White Sox, Dunn turned in one of the worst seasons in recent history in 2011, hitting .159/.292/.277 with 11 homers and 42 RBI in 415 at-bats. He was 6-for-94, good for a .064 average, against southpaws.
Obviously, a strong March isn’t making up for that, but it is looking like the White Sox will get to see the real Dunn this year. Even more than the four homers, it’s the one strikeout in 11 games that may be the most encouraging sign. Dunn struck out 27 times while hitting .224 in 67 at-bats last spring.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.