Gavin Sheets hadn’t homered away from Guaranteed Rate Field this season.
The right fielder hit a two-run shot in the second inning, the first of five home runs in the game for the Chicago White Sox in an important 8-2 victory against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field.
Sheets and Andrew Vaughn went back-to-back in the second inning. Third baseman Yoán Moncada hit a solo homer in the third and catcher Yasmani Grandal hit a solo home run in the fourth. Shortstop Elvis Andrus led off the fifth with a home run.
Starter Lance Lynn allowed two runs on six hits with six strikeouts and one walk in 6⅓ innings as the Sox gained a crucial game in the race for American League Central. They trail the division-leading Guardians by three.
The Sox have won 11 of 16 and snapped the Guardians’ six-game winning streak.
“It was a big one,” Sox acting manager Miguel Cairo told reporters in Cleveland. “This is who we are. Good at-bats, hit a couple of homers. They went up there and they were aggressive. It’s good to see the guys come back from (Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies) and put some big numbers in there.”
Here are three takeaways from the game.
1. The Sox made Cleveland starter Hunter Gaddis work.
Gaddis made his second-career start Thursday.
He had a 17-pitch first inning, retiring the Sox in order. But the first two batters of the second, Eloy Jiménez and Sheets, made Gaddis throw 16 pitches. Jiménez drew a walk to wrap up a six-pitch at-bat.
Sheets fouled off five pitches after getting two strikes and completed a 10-pitch at-bat with the two-run homer to right, his 13th of the season.
Vaughn, the next hitter, fell behind 0-2 before hitting his team-leading 16th homer.
Moncada, who went 4-for-5, worked a full count before hitting his solo home run in the third.
Andrus’ solo homer came on a 2-0 fastball in the fifth. First baseman José Abreu drove in Moncada with a single later in the inning on the ninth pitch of that at-bat. That was Gaddis’ 92nd — and final — pitch of the afternoon. He allowed seven runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and one walk in four-plus innings.
“It doesn’t matter who’s on the mound, our guys have been preparing, they’re doing their homework and they’re ready to play,” Cairo told reporters in Cleveland. “That’s something they’ve been doing every day and they’re going to continue. (Thursday) it was here (in Cleveland), (Friday) it is going to be (at) Detroit.”
2. Lynn continued his strong stretch since the All-Star break.
Lynn got José Ramírez to hit a popup between home, first and the pitcher’s mound.
It should have been the second out of the first inning. Instead the ball fell to the ground, Grandal was charged with the error and the Guardians threatened with runners on first and second.
Lynn made sure the Guardians didn’t take advantage of the mistake, striking out Josh Naylor and Oscar Gonzalez.
The Sox needed a big-time performance from the right-hander. And he came through.
Lynn gave up a run on three hits in the second, but struck out Amed Rosario with runners on first and second to limit the damage. A one-out single by Myles Straw in the second was the Guardians’ last hit against Lynn until a one-out single by Gonzalez in the sixth.
Lynn (7-5) continued an impressive stretch, improving to 6-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break. He’s 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA (seven earned runs in 44 innings) with 51 strikeouts in his last seven starts.
3. The final round is right around the corner.
Cairo wouldn’t go as far as call Thursday a “must-win.”
“It was a win,” he said. “It was a game we needed to do good and we did.”
The season series is an important factor if tiebreakers come into play, and the Guardians hold a 9-7 edge. The teams have three meetings remaining, Tuesday-Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Before then, the Guardians face another division contender with five games in four days against the third-place Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. That series includes a doubleheader Saturday. The Guardians swept a three-game series against the Twins at Target Field Sept. 9-11.
The Sox go to Detroit Friday for the first of three against the Tigers.
“I liked to get a ‘W’ here and now we go to Detroit,” Cairo said. “We’re going to see (Cleveland) at home for three. Celebrate this one, (Friday) is another day and we have to look forward to Detroit.”