From three solo homers to the long-awaited successful squeeze play, the White Sox won this game with balls both long and small.
It helped that Mike Pelfrey pitched his best game of the season. He followed Jose Quintana’s strong start by allowing one run over six innings himself, allowing the White Sox to use their late-game burst to tack on insurance runs rather than playing catch-up.
Pelfrey received early support in the form of a monster solo shot by Todd Frazier. He turned on a 3-1 inner half Marcus Stroman, and then Matt Davidson backed him up with a less audacious line drive that just cleared the left center wall. His fifth homer in six games gave the Sox a 2-0 lead through 1 1⁄2 innings.
Pelfrey gave one of those runs back when Ryan Goins somehow pulled a decent changeup on the outside corner into the right center gap for an RBI ground rule double. Pelfrey benefited by the ball bouncing over the wall, as Troy Tulowitzki would’ve scored had the ball stayed in the park. He ended the threat with a groundout, and preserved the lead for the rest of his start.
Rick Renteria even let him try venturing into the third time through the order in the bottom of the sixth after Jose Abreu’s laser left the yard to end a 21-game homerless streak in the top of the inning. The decision looked iffy when Kevin Pillar shot a single through the middle, but Pelfrey induced a 6-4-3 double play from Josh Donaldson, then got Jose Bautista to pop out to seal the quality start.
Renteria’s middle relievers justified the long leash. Dan Jennings gave up a one-out single to Justin Smoak before departing for Chris Beck, who allowed a walk and a single to make it a 3-2 game. That’s when Renteria went to Tommy Kahnle an out earlier than usual, and Kahnle justified that move by getting Goins to ground into another 6-4-3 job.
He then pitched an easy 1-2-3, two-strikeout eighth, and David Robertson did the same in the ninth to close it out.
Even if Kahnle or Robertson allowed some traffic on the basepaths, the White Sox offense found a way to reduce the tension by tacking on a couple runs. In the eighth, Alen Hanson reached on a single, moved to second on a Melky Cabrera sac bunt, took third on Abreu’s deep flyout, then scored when Donaldson booted Frazier’s bouncer down the line.
An inning later, the Sox made a better play with a bunt, with Omar Narvaez moving Tim Anderson to third after a leadoff double. Yolmer Sanchez then avoided telegraphing the suicide squeeze on a 1-0 count, and Anderson scored easily to make it a 5-2 game.
*The White Sox weren’t fazed by Stroman, who entered the game 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA in four starts. He only allowed the three runs over seven innings this time, but the Sox hit him harder than the line indicated.
*The Blue Jays committed three errors, including a pair by Donaldson.