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Blue Jays 6, White Sox 5: Strong offensive effort goes to waste

Partly due to a costly baserunning mistake, Toronto extended its winning streak to six

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays
Providing the pop: Andrew Vaughn went 4-for-5 with a home run and a double in the loss.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox (23-24) put up a good fight in Toronto against the Blue Jays (28-20). Ultimately, though, their rally came up short, as they fell, 6-5, and back below .500 to open the road trip.

Kevin Gausman, who entered this game with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.31 FIP, ran into some trouble early on. Despite the righty’s outstanding repertoire, it was quite the evening for Andrew Vaughn, who got the scoring started in the top of the first. With one out and nobody on base, Vaughn crushed an 0-2 splitter that missed the target.

Unfortunately, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito had a rougher game than Gausman. In the bottom of the second, the Blue Jays did their first damage against the talented righthander. Teóscar Hernández started the rally with a double to lead off the inning, and Alejandro Kirk followed with his second home run of the season. This was not a typical home run, as it had a 41-degree launch angle and an expected batting average of only .160. But Kirk got just enough of the ball to get it over the left-field wall, and it was a 2-1 game.

The score remained 2-1 until a chaotic fifth inning, when both teams put crooked numbers on the board. The top of the fifth started with a Reese McGuire double, and with one out, Danny Mendick drove him in with a double of his own. Yasmani Grandal struck out, and it appeared that the White Sox would settle for one, but Vaughn made sure that did not happen. With two outs, Vaughn singled to right to drive in Mendick, and the White Sox had the lead once again.

The good vibes did not extend into the bottom of the fifth, when the Blue Jays got to Giolito. George Springer hit a single with one out, and Bo Bichette doubled to put runners on second and third. Giolito managed to temporarily stop Toronto’s momentum by striking out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with an excellent changeup. However, Giolito could not get out of the jam unscathed. In a high-leverage situation, Hernández came through with a line drive to center. Adam Engel nearly made an outstanding catch, but he could not quite make the play, so Springer and Bichette scored. That put the Blue Jays back in front, 4-3. Following that, the Blue Jays got a pair of insurance runs on another home run by Kirk.

The Blue Jays nearly tacked on another run, as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled to prompt a pitching change. With Reynaldo López on the mound, Matt Chapman got on with an infield single. Danny Jansen had an RBI opportunity, and responded with a sharp grounder to third — but Jake Burger made a nice play to save a run and keep the deficit at three.

Trailing 6-3 through five innings, this game appeared to be over given the White Sox offense’s struggles and the dead ball. However, Gavin Sheets and Adam Engel hit back-to-back singles to open the sixth. McGuire hit his second double of the day to drive Sheets in and make it a two-run game. Josh Harrison walked to load the bases, and Mendick drove in the White Sox’s fifth run with a ground ball that resulted in a force out at second.

Then, a bizarre play happened, and it was one that the White Sox would like to forget. Trailing by one with runners on the corners and one out, Grandal was at the plate. The leadoff man hit a fly ball to left that was plenty deep enough to drive in McGuire from third. McGuire tagged up and jogged home, but meanwhile Mendick tried to advance from first to second. The throw beat Mendick by plenty, and he was tagged out just before McGuire reached home plate. As a result, the run did not count, and the Blue Jays remained ahead, 6-5. Sigh.

There was another interesting base-running play in the bottom of the sixth. This time, the White Sox were on the right end of it, as they fielded it properly.

The combined mistake of Mendick and McGuire turned out to be a crucial moment in this game. The relievers got their acts together in the latter portion of the contest, so the score remained 6-5 heading into the ninth. Vaughn led off the inning with his fourth hit of the day, as he dumped a Kansas City Special into short center. Then, José Abreu singled on a 1-2 pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. That brought up Jake Burger with a golden opportunity to do some damage, but all he damaged was the White Sox’s win probability. Burger’s ground ball to third was easy to field, and the Blue Jays turned a 5-4 double play to get both lead runners. The next batter, Gavin Sheets, struck out to end the game.

The White Sox will be back in action tomorrow night, and the probable starters are Michael Kopech and Hyun-jin Ryu. As usual, NBC Sports Chicago will televise it, and WMVP 1000 AM will have the radio coverage. That game is also scheduled to begin at 6:07 p.m. Central. We will see you then.