Considering the White Sox went winless against the Blue Jays when they met at Rogers Centre earlier this season, and considering the Blue Jays erased a five-run deficit to beat the Yankees of all teams on Sunday, there’s less guilt in the White Sox using all of their six-run cushion in order to get into the win column against Toronto this year.
Thanks to a welcome surge of power, the White Sox jumped out to an 8-2 lead against José Berríos. The Jays scored three in the sixth with an assist from home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus, and Cavan Biggio took tonight’s closer Joe Kelly deep for two in the ninth, but because the White Sox ran up the score during the first half of the game, the Jays ran out of time.
The Sox received contributions in all forms, most notably the long ball. They took Berríos deep three times over a three-inning stretch. Josh Harrison notched his first homer as a White Sox by hammering a rolling curve to put the Sox ahead 3-2 in the second inning. In the third, Luis Robert put the kind of satisfying swing that you usually see lefties put on a pitch down and in, except Robert’s right-handed tracking of a 92-mph sinker launched it over the bullpen in left.
Andrew Vaughn then golfed a 1-2 curveball that wasn’t as low as Berríos preferred over the center field wall for a solo shot and a 6-2 lead.
That was the peak of a massive night for Vaughn, who went 4-for-4 from the second spot. He opened his night by making Tim Anderson run 270 feet with a double that bisected the wide open gap just left of center, setting the stage for a perfect night. Anderson went 2-for-5 in his return, although he got picked off first the other time he reached.
Harrison also provided a big boost. The second-inning homer was his only hit, but he came through with a couple of big plays at second base. He made one of the better infield plays you’ll see with an incredible diving stab on Gabriel Moreno’s shot in the fifth inning…
… and also made a nice cross-body throw on the other side of second to retire George Springer during the ninth inning, which Joe Kelly pitched. Tony La Russa had already used Kendall Graveman to pitch the eighth in order to handle the heart off the lineup. Depending on how much you mythologize closers, was a good move (if Kelly gave up damage to the bottom of the order, you wouldn’t want to see him face 3-4-5) or a bad one (he doesn’t have what it takes to pitch the ninth).
Despite the late wobble, the bullpen held up well enough to preserve the win for Lance Lynn, who shook off a two-run homer by Raimel Tapia following a Jake Burger error in the second inning to keep the Jays off the board through the remainder of five innings.
Then he threw a sixth, and after a leadoff single by Bo Bichette, he should’ve struck out Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but instead strike three turned into ball four.
Teoscar Hernandez then helped the Blue Jays go 2-for-2 in seizing the day, doubling home both runners, then taking third when Reese McGuire whiffed on Anderson’s throw home, which was going to be late, anyway. Hernandez then scored on an RBI groundout, but that only made it 8-5, because the Sox were able to scratch together two more runs off David Phelps in the bottom of the fifth.
Reynaldo López helped calm things down, retiring all three batters he faced in the sixth, then stranding a one-out Biggio double with a fine defensive play. He snared Springer’s comebacker to hang up Biggio between second and third, and López ran at him until only a quick flip was necessary to complete a one-throw rundown.
*José Abreu had the lone off day. He was the only White Sox starter without a hit, and the outs were costly (striking out with a runner on third and one out in the first inning, then grounding into a double play in the sixth).
*The teams combined for 15 runs despite each going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
*Vaughn is now hitting .330, and that looks good behind Anderson’s .357.