It’s hard to fathom a scenario where the White Sox could hit seven home runs in a game. It’s even harder to imagine they could hit seven in a single game and lose.
Somehow, that’s what happened on Saturday as the Sox took a host of Toronto pitchers deep seven times — all of the solo variety — but still fell short in a 10-8 defeat.
Miguel Gonzalez vs. R.A. Dickey essentially turned into a round of batting practice for White Sox and Blue Jays hitters, but Dickey came out the better as, despite four of the solo home runs coming off of him, he only allowed three other baserunners while Toronto strung together multi-run efforts against the inconsistent Gonzalez, who spent his afternoon missing over the heart of the plate. Doing that against the Blue Jays’ juggernaut offense usually spells disaster.
Gonzalez has done his part to earn the No. 5 spot in the White Sox rotation, but his inability to consistently hit his spots is the reason he’s now sandwiched a six-inning, one-earned run effort around a pair of clunkers, Saturday’s being an eight-run, five and third-inning outing in which he walked more hitters (3) than he struck out (2).
He dug himself into an early hole when, after retiring Ezequiel Carrera to lead off the game, he allowed five-straight batters to reach as Toronto scored three quick runs, punctuated by three-straight doubles by Edwin Encarnacion, Michael Saunders and Troy Tulowitzki. The damage could have been worse if not for Toronto running into an out at the plate on a nice J.B. Shuck-Brett Lawrie rally.
The 3-0 deficit quickly grew in the bottom of the second when, after Gonzalez walked No. 9 hitter and Dickey Personal Catcher Josh Thole (two of the three walks Gonzalez issues were to Thole), he missed badly on an 89-mph slider over the middle of the plate and Devon Travis crushed it for a two-run homer.
The bottom of the White Sox order was up to the task against Dickey, however, and the five-run deficit quickly became two in the bottom half of the frame when Lawrie, Dioner Navarro and Shuck went back-to-back-to-back, the first time the Sox hit three-straight homers in a game since 2009.
Dickey’s knuckleball was unhittable at times, and made some batters (hello, Tim Anderson) look downright foolish, but when he rolled one, Sox hitters took advantage with four solo home runs, the fourth being Lawrie’s second homer of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The deficit kept growing as Gonzalez struggled, however, as prior to the fourth solo shot of the day, the Blue Jays tacked on another three runs in the top of the fourth when he walked Josh Donaldson with the bases loaded and Encarnacion dropped a two-run single over the head of Lawrie to score a pair.
Toronto’s offense from that point stalled despite the depleted Gonzalez failing to get through six innings. Chris Beck and Dan Jennings combined to throw 2.2 innings of shutout baseball in relief. That lull allowed the Sox to make the game interesting as the fireworks continued, with Anderson taking Drew Storen deep and DH-for-some-reason Alex Avila doing the same to Jason Grilli. Again, both solo homers.
The only non-homer run the Sox scored on the afternoon was an RBI single by Lawrie in the sixth. The homers and effort by Beck and Jennings brought the score to 8-7, but that’s where things unraveled, as Toronto’s offense touched up Michael Ynoa for two insurance runs in the top of the ninth to basically deflate all hopes of a comeback attempt. Adam Eaton’s solo shot in the bottom of the ninth — which tied a franchise record — didn’t make a difference.
Deflating is a good word for the game as a whole. Too often this season (and, really, over the last several years) have we seen solid pitching performances go for naught as the offense slumbered. On Saturday, the offense had one of its best efforts of the season, only to see the pitching finally succumb to a Toronto team it had fared well against through the first four meetings of the season.
Seven home runs and a loss? Unthinkable. The White Sox keep coming up with new ways to surprise.
Team Record: 37-38
Lead Photo Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports