Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Four White Sox went deep on Saturday afternoon, including Mike Pelfrey.

The starting pitcher’s six innings pitched is tied for his longest outing of the season. Pelfrey provided the White Sox with only their fifth quality start in 25 games to propel them to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 47,171 at the Rogers Centre. Todd Frazier, Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu all homered for the White Sox, who won for the sixth time in eight tries.

“Nice job by Pelf today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Threw a lot of strikes. Obviously threw his breaking ball very effectively, kept it down below the zone. His change of speed was definitely a big factor. Used his fastball when he needed to. Thought he worked ahead and was able to get out of a little traffic.

“I think that’s his best start for us to date.”

While the offense provided several rounds of fireworks, Pelfrey did the rest. Though the White Sox have limited his innings total, the veteran right-hander has provided them with about all they could ask for a player who signed a minor-league contract on April 8.

While he narrowly avoided a big inning in the second, Pelfrey was otherwise outstanding against Toronto. He recorded perfect innings in the first, third, fourth and fifth and also faced the minimum in the sixth after inducing a double play off Josh Donaldson’s bat.

Pelfrey nearly relinquished a 2-0 lead in the second inning when he yielded three hits. But Ryan Goins’ two-out double to deep center with two aboard bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Pelfrey then stranded a pair when he got Luke Maile to ground out.

Pelfrey allowed a run and four hits in six innings while striking out five. He lowered his earned run-average to 3.56 in the process.

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“The sinker was good, had good sink,” Pelfrey said. “The curveball was maybe the best it has been, which is refreshing because the start before it was probably the worst it has been. The slider was good too, and the split I thought was good. I had all four pitches working, and the guys behind me made some plays and they hit some balls at guys, and it ended up a good day.”

Tommy Kahnle also delivered a big performance for the White Sox. Kahnle took over in the seventh with a 3-2 lead and two men aboard and induced an inning-ending double play. Kahnle returned for the eighth and struck out two giving him 48 on the season with only six walks.

“(The double play) was huge because they had the go-ahead run at what, first?” Kahnle said. “They had the tying run at second. I was coming in there just doing what I normally do, trying to get ahead — even though I got behind early — I was trying to get Goins to get that double play ball. It worked out for us.”

The White Sox offense continued to provide its pitchers early runs.

Frazier blasted a 427-foot shot off Marcus Stroman with one out in the second inning to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Davidson followed with his fifth homer of the week to put the White Sox up by two runs.

Abreu put the White Sox back up two with a solo shot in the sixth inning, his first homer since May 24. The White Sox scored a run in the eighth on Donaldson’s second error of the game and added one in the ninth on a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze by Yolmer Sanchez.

“I thought I was going to have to be pretty good because the guy on the other side, Stroman, is pretty dang good,” Pelfrey said. “Luckily, he made a couple of mistakes, and the boys took advantage of them. He’s pretty tough, but we were able to come out on top.”

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tommy Kahnle has been one of the White Sox brightest bright spots, but fell victim to some tough luck that could ding on his under-the-radar All-Star bid.

Kahnle allowed the tying and go-ahead runs in the White Sox 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics Sunday in front of 28,089 at Guaranteed Rate Field, marking only the sixth time in 31 games the 27-year-old right-hander has allowed a run in 2017.

In the eighth inning, Kahnle allowed a broken bat single to Franklin Barreto, then Ryon Healy reached on a Todd Frazier error. Khris Davis tied the game with a single to left, knocking Kahnle out of the game, and Oakland took the lead when Yonder Alonso blooped a single off David Robertson that plopped into left field out of the reach of Melky Cabrera. Consider the hit probabilities, according to Statcast, of those three hits and the error:

Barreto: 78 percent
Healy: 5 percent
Davis: 62 percent
Alonso: 2 percent

That Kahnle coughed up the lead was surprising given his stealthy success leading a strong back end of the White Sox bullpen this year. The White Sox, prior to Sunday's defeat, were 28-0 when leading after seven innings. 

"Our bullpen's doing a great (job), it really is," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think you can't take away from what they've been doing for us all year long. We've been going to them a lot."

On that improbable Alonso bloop single, Cabrera was shifted more toward center field. 

"He was actually playing a little more to the pull side than he was to the line," Renteria said. "I don't think he was going to be able to get to it, regardless of the effort he might have given us. These guys are all a little fatigued, they're a little tired right now. They're giving you what they've got right now."

Entering Sunday’s game, Kahnle’s 1.2 WAR was sixth-best American League relievers, behind Boston’s Craig Kimbrel (2.2), Houston’s Chris Devenski (1.6), Cleveland’s Andrew Miller (1.6), Los Angeles’ Blake Parker (1.4) and Toronto’s Roberto Osuna (1.3). His 44.8 strikeout percentage is among the five best in baseball along with Kimbrel, New York’s Dellin Betances, Los Angeles’ Kenley Jansen and Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel.

Kahnle has been undoubtedly spectacular this year even with Sunday’s hiccup, though with Garcia seeming likely to be on the American League All-Star roster, Terry Francona wouldn’t have to take him to fill the game’s requirement. That this year’s All-Star Game doesn’t count — it’s the first since 2002 that won’t dictate home-field advantage in the World Series — could alter Francona’s roster construction to reward more starters and closers, and the Cleveland Indians manager would certainly be justified if he wanted to take his own setup guy in Miller.

The White Sox handed Kahnle the lead on Adam Engel’s first career home run (a solo shot in the third) and Jose Abreu’s dash home on a passed ball in the fourth. Starter Derek Holland was solid, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings. Melky Cabrera added a solo home run in the ninth inning, his eighth of the season.

Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce homered off Robertson and Chris Beck, respectively, in the ninth inning to give the A’s a comfortable ending to their three-game sweep of the White Sox. Beck was hit by a comebacker after allowing that home run and left the game with a bruised left hamstring, and is considered day-to-day.