In case it wasn’t made clear by the 7000 times Jason Benetti waxed poetically about how fun it would be for these two teams to meet in the post-season, the Sox and Jays put on quite a series at 35th & Shields over the past few days with the Sox winning two of three, though not without further injury cost. Both of these teams boast some outstanding young hitters, and also a healthy collection of beefy boys on each roster, and all of it was on full display. Though where the Sox were able to separate themselves over the course of three games was most notably the pitching from both the bullpen and the starters was able to outlast the Jays hitters and give the Sox bats enough time in games 1 and 3 to get to the soft underbelly of the Jays’ pen.
An early game of the year candidate against Robbie Ray’s pronounced ass crack and Monica-Seles-level grunts, counterpart Carlos Rodon didn’t have the stuff that has become the standard for him through the first part of this season, and seemingly started every inning with a runner on 2nd base. But HARD CARL was able to sweatily wriggle out of almost all of it through the course if his five twitchy innings, and the Notorious TLR had his best game of the season pulling all of the right levers building a bridge to Hendriks in the 9th through Ruiz, Marshall, and Crochet, the pitcher of record. The pen only allowed two hits in their 12 outs of work, and kept the powerful bats of the Jays at bay, and Evan Marshall in particular had a key strikeout of the absolutely terrifying Vlad Guerrero Jr to end the 7th.
At the plate Andrew Vaughn was the star of the evening, finally denting Ray with a solo shot, and then nearly put the game out of reach on his own with a deep bases loaded sacrifice fly. A two run triple from Leury Garcia added some insurance, and it would be more than the back end of the bullpen would need.
On Wednesday night Lance Lynn, or as Ozzie calls him “LASS LEEN”, gave his customary efficient 7 innings of his wide variety of different fastballs that kept all but Randal Grichuk off balance, whose solo homer tied the game after the Sox grabbed one in the first on a Yoan RBI single. As a mirror image of the night previous, everything went to hell in soft fashion against Aaron Bummer in the 8th who managed to only get one official out, with a key dropped third strike where rookie Riley Adams was able take first base to keep their rally going. A walk to Vladito and his extremely rude cheeks brought in tying run, and the Jays kept the line moving after that.
More discouraging however, is the fact that Nick Madrigal tore his hamstring while sprinting down to first base on a grounder. Nicky Versteeg has been infuriating at times with his asinine baserunning decisions and occasional stonehandedness in the field, but no one can deny that his bat-to-ball skill has been a definitely plus for this team in keeping innings alive, especially in the era of gunked up balls flying in at a zillion miles an hour specifically designed to miss bats. It appears Dancin’ Danny Mendick will get first crack at the job in Madrigal’s protracted absence, but this might just be one injury too many and Rick Hahn might finally have to find a solution for this season outside the organ-I-zation. But at least Jose Abreu survived having a bat thrown at him by the home plate umpire.
In the rubber match last night, the Sox figured out very early on to take lefty Hyun Jin Ryu oppo from the right batter’s box, as he primarly works away and with off speed stuff. Abreu sliced a double into the right field corner to bring home Yermin who had doubled himself just before, and then the extremely fucking moist Yasmani Grandal reached out and sent one over the right field wall. That three run lead would be more than enough for Dallas Keuchel to work with, as he looked vintage in his quick work and accuracy at the edge of the zone, no doubt helped by some Grandal framework. The Jays would get to within one with RBI singles in the 5th and 6th, but Adam Engel connected for his first hit of the season with an insurance dong to left center, and Abreu would double home TA in the 9th for good measure ahead of another Hendriks save.
Up next for the Southside Nine will be a trip to Detroit where they’ll need to sock away some wins over the weekend before a week straight against some sterner stuff in the Tampa Bay Rays (who sadly will not be wearing their neon ass throwbacks here), and then on to Houston after that. That should be a pretty good indication of just how much help they’re going to need.