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The White Sox generated plenty of offense, and Tony La Russa successfully avoided his high-leverage relievers.
These two items aren’t necessarily connected. José Abreu hit a pair of two-run homers, but the second one pushed the game out of save-situation range in the top of the ninth. In the prior innings, Bennett Sousa and Tanner Banks survived a succession of hard contact during the seventh and eighth innings.
Either way, a win’s a win, especially since it could’ve been uglier. Lance Lynn’s 2022 debut got off to the worst possible start, and while he saved face by pitching in to the fifth inning, he got into Joe McEwing’s face after the second.
If the White Sox lost the game, you could easily imagine it symbolizing the capsizing of the season, especially since Jake Burger left the game with a pitch that might’ve broken a finger. As it stands, Lynn backed up his intensity by keeping the Tigers off the board the rest of the way, albeit with an assist from Kyle Crick. (And apparently the x-rays of Burger’s hand were negative, and he’s day-to-day.)
Abreu spotted Lynn a 2-0 lead with a homer off Rony Garcia, picking up Andrew Vaughn (who TOOTBLAN’d) and Luis Robert (who popped out) by converting AJ Pollock’s leadoff single into a pair of runs.
But Willi Castro turned Lynn’s first pitch of the 2022 season into a solo shot that ended the Tigers’ eight-game homerless streak, the first of 10 hits Lynn allowed over 4⅓ innings. Two more led to a second Detroit run, and he gave up a third single before the inning closed.
Three more singles turned into a third Detroit run in the second inning, and the positioning on one ground-ball single apparently drew Lynn’s ire, as he had it out with Joe McEwing in the dugout after the inning.
But Lynn responded with a 1-2-3 third that put him back on track to get the game closer to halfway, and thus was able to buy the White Sox offense enough time to put another dent in Detroit’s pitching.
Reese McGuire, who is taking over the primary catching duties with Yasmani Grandal going to the IL, made himself involved in the next two waves.
In the fifth, he led off with a double, then scored on Danny Mendick’s single to tie the game at three. AJ Pollock kept it going with a single, and while it set up a double play off the bat off Vaughn, Robert came through with an RBI single that put the Sox ahead.
After Crick stranded an Austin Meadows one-out double that ended Lynn’s night in the bottom of the fifth, the Sox struck for three more. Yoán Moncada and Leury García singled, after which Reese McGuire dropped a bunt toward the third-base side of the mound. Andrew Chafin tried to get the force at third, but his forced throw bounced into foul territory, and Moncada cleared through a fake tag to score, with García hot on his heels.
McGuire took second on the play, and while Danny Mendick lined out and Pollock struck out, Vaughn atoned for his earlier mistake with a single through the left side to score McGuire for a 7-3 lead.
The insurance runs mattered, because La Russa intended to go no higher up the leverage ladder than Crick, Sousa and Banks before acting closer Kendall Graveman (Liam Hendriks is still out with arm stiffness).
Perhaps it could have all collapsed on them some other night. Crick issued a pair of one-out walks in the sixth before getting Castro to ground into a fielder’s choice at second. With runners on the corners and a lefty in Harold Castro coming to the plate, in came Bennett Sousa, whose .389 average allowed to left-handed hitters briefly rose after a Meadows nubber toward third base that counted as an RBI infield single.
Miguel Cabrera followed with a palpable hit through the right side that made it a 7-5 game, Up came another lefty in Meadows, and after tussling to a full countr, Meadows’ hot one-hop shot found Mendick’s glove on the other side of second, and he completed the 6-3 to stop the bleeding and (justify Lynn’s bullying of McEwing).
Sousa endured three lineouts during a 1-2-3 seventh, and Banks watched Willi Castro’s deep drive to left die in Pollock’s glove in front of the left-field wall to end the eighth. The resolution of the batted balls during those innings made Abreu’s wind-conquering two-run shot to center even more impressive. It found the shrubbery over Comerica Park’s distant center field wall, meaning that no other park in baseball would contain it.
*Lynn’s final line: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 52 of 88 pitches for strikes.
*Sousa improved to 3-0 despite an 8.41 ERA and both inherited runners scoring on his watch tonight, which isn’t fair.
*Abreu now has 27 homers against the Tigers, tying the Twins for the most against a single opponent. However, Abreu’s 111 RBIs against the Tigers (over just 132 games) are far and away his biggest total against any one team (he has 99 against Minnesota).