Dallas Keuchel thinks he is heading in the right direction. That’s a very positive development for a Chicago White Sox team dealing with another major injury.
The White Sox closed out a 5-2 homestand and improved their AL Central lead to a season-high 4 1/2 games over idle Cleveland. Adam Engel also went deep, and reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu hit two RBI doubles.
But it was Keuchel (5-1) leading the way in another solid performance after he pitched six sharp innings in a no-decision against Detroit in his previous start. Paying closer attention to his tempo, the veteran left-hander limited a dangerous Blue Jays lineup to two runs and six hits.
“Right now is where I thought I would be a little bit earlier in the season,” said Keuchel, who struck out a season-high eight and walked two. “But I’m 70-something innings in now, I’m liking where I’m headed. That’s a nice feeling to have, especially when you’re kind of searching earlier in the year for some success.”
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Keuchel was locating all his pitches.
“He had us off balance. Like nobody knew what’s coming next,” Montoyo said. “So he did a good job. His cutter was moving pretty good today for sure. That’s why you saw those awkward swings from us.”
“Speed. I am speed.” – Vladdy 🏎 <a href=”https://t.co/1aIJNyJEMj”>pic.twitter.com/1aIJNyJEMj</a>
It was the first game for the White Sox since they placed second baseman Nick Madrigal on the injured list with a torn right hamstring. Madrigal got hurt when he tried to beat out a grounder in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s 6-2 loss to Toronto.
Chicago has been hit hard by injuries this year, but it keeps rolling along.
The loss of Madrigal is “a big blow, but the games still count and we have to go forward,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Marcus Semien and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. each drove in a run for Toronto, which lost for the fourth time in six games. Hyun Jin Ryu (5-4) pitched six innings of three-run ball after struggling in his previous start against Houston.
“A lot of my pitches felt a little better, but with the changeup, I still felt a little awkward,” Ryu said through a translator.
With one out and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on first, Moncada fielded Randal Grichuk’s grounder and threw to first instead of going to second to get the lead runner. Guerrero advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Gurriel’s two-out single, trimming Chicago’s lead to 3-2.
But Keuchel escaped the jam by retiring Riley Adams on a fly ball to center with two runners on. Engel then hit his first homer of the season in the seventh, sending a solo drive deep to center against Anthony Castro.
After Keuchel departed, Evan Marshall and Codi Heuer each got three outs before Liam Hendriks worked the ninth for his AL-leading 16th save.
The White Sox got off to a fast start against Ryu, scoring three times in the first. Abreu doubled home Yermin Mercedes before Grandal hit an opposite-field drive to right for his 10th homer.