The Chicago White Sox earned a split in the first two games of a four-game set versus the Toronto Blue Jays. The White Sox are now 2-6 after the first 8 games of a 10-game road trip. After losing the first five games of the trip, the Sox seem to have righted the ship at bit. Throughout the first 12 games of the season the Sox were 10-for-73 with runners in scoring position. During the first two games in Toronto, the Sox went 4-for-14 with RISP. Granted it is only two games, but any progress in that department is certainly good news. After 14 games, the biggest strength for the Sox has been their bullpen. The White Sox relief crew ranks 2nd in the American League (3rd in MLB) with a bullpen ERA of 1.87. If they can sustain anything close to this success throughout the year, then the White Sox will be winning side of many ballgames.

Here’s a look at what has happened so far in Toronto.

Monday, April 15th – Blue Jays 4 White Sox 3

The White Sox offense faced an old friend on Monday night, as fan-favorite Mark Buehrle took the mound. The veteran left-hander was not great, but did just enough to pick up the victory against his former teammates. In typical Buehrle fashion, the White Sox were able to crank out nine hits in 6.1 innings, but were unable to score many runs. Buehrle was able to make the pitches when he needed to, and was able to escape out of a few jams throughout the night. The most notable performer offensively was Dayan Viciedo, and it should come as no surprise since he typically hits left-handed pitching (career .360 average) very well. The “Tank” went 3-for-4 at the dish, and was credited with his 4th RBI of the season with a run-scoring single in the first inning. Hopefully this will get his bat going, as Viciedo has really struggled out of the gate with a .184 batting average.

Facing the Blue Jays in game one was Gavin Floyd. Floyd did not have his best stuff and as a result was knocked around. Floyd could not get out of the fifth inning, finishing with 4.1 innings pitched. He gave up four runs, on nine hits, three walks, and struck out three batters. With the short outing, the bullpen was called upon once again to pick up the slack. Relievers Hector Santiago, Matt Lindstrom, and Donnie Veal combined to pitch the remaining 3.2 innings. Veal gave up the lone hit for the trio and their season ERAs all still stand at 0.00.

Tuesday, April 16th  – White Sox 4 Blue Jays 3            

The White Sox only tallied five hits, but were able to cross the plate four times to pick up the victory on Tuesday night. The offense showed some versatility by hitting a home run, getting a clutch hit with a RISP, and even scoring the winning-run on a sacrifice fly. Trailing 2-1 in the top of the 7th inning, Paul Konerko launched a solo homer (his 3rd of the season) to tie the game. After Adam Dunn and Konerko opened up the 8th inning with walks, Dayan Viciedo hit a rocket over the head of Emilio Bonifacio in center field to break the tie. Hector Gimenez then followed with a sac fly, scoring the “fleet-footed” Konerko from third base.

Dylan Axelrod took the hill trying to rebound from a rough start in Washington and he responded. The righty went six innings, allowing just two runs, on seven hits and one walk. He struck out four batters, and allowed both runs on solo homers. In all, it was an impressive outing against a tough American League East lineup. Unfortunately, Axelrod was unable to get the victory, but this success should help him build some confidence heading into his next start against Minnesota. After Axelrod departed, Hector Santiago and Matt Lindstrom came on in relief and kept the Blue Jays scoreless. The two relievers combined to pitch two perfect innings, with Santiago retiring the first five batters. With the White Sox leading 4-2 in the ninth, Addison Reed was summoned to close the door. Apparently, Reed wanted to make the game more interesting by allowing back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. With runners on first and third, Reed allowed one run to score on a sacrifice fly, but would then retire the final two batters to secure the win. Although he may have made White Sox fans a bit nervous, Reed ultimately got the job done. In the end, that is all that matters as he is now 5-for-5 in save opportunities this season.

Record: 6-8, 4th place in AL Central (2.5 games back)

Up Next: The remaining two games of a four game series in Toronto. The White Sox will be looking to take the final two games and win the series. If they can do that, then the Sox will complete their 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record.

Wednesday, April 17th at 6:07pm CT: Jose Quintana (0-0, 4.09 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (2-0, 3.48 ERA)

Thursday, April 18th at 6:07pm CT: Chris Sale (1-1, 5.21 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (1-2, 5.82 ERA)

-Eric Tichelbaut

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