Of recent, the White Sox offense has come under criticism for being too home run-dependent. This is one of those fun criticisms, since it inevitably involves nights where the offense dominates via an endless wave of home runs.
Wednesday was one of those nights, Thursday was one of those nights! What fun!
Plus, as the White Sox proved, home runs are a multi-purpose tool.
DeWayne Wise - Solo shot to right-center in the 3rd off of Aaron Laffey - This served to cut the Blue Jays two-run lead in half, and also justify another half-dozen spot starts thanks to his torrid start--six hits and six RBI in his first four games.
Dayan Viciedo - Solo shot to left in the 5th off of Aaron Laffey - Served to tie the game, reawaken Dayan's pull power, and exacerbate his troubling platoon splits. Also, it left the park really quickly, so it was executed in the interest of brevity.
Tyler Flowers - Solo shot to left in the 5th off of Aaron Laffey - Served to give the Sox the lead, make slight spacial alterations to the top deck of the Rogers Centre, and completely demoralize Aaron Laffey...which probably wasn't necessary.
Alex Rios - Three-run shot to left in 8th off of Darren Oliver - Served to put the game out of reach, emphasize the importance of not matching up your LOOGY with Alex Rios, and made thousands of booing Blue Jays fans even more upset.
Alexei Ramirez - Solo shot to left in 8th off of Brandon Lyon - A complete pile-on, but who cares? Good to see Alexei get into one, though. Good to see home runs in general.
Five home runs wound up lowering the competency requirement for Francisco Liriano, but he commanded a tight game for 6.1 innings, with his most efficient and strike-filled outing since coming aboard. Moises Sierra's second home run of the series was his only blemish.
White Sox 7, Blue Jays 2
Francisco Liriano - 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, 6 K, HR, 86 pitches - "Hobbled beyond recognition" might have been a good descriptor of the opposing lineup, but Liriano sharpened up nicely in response to last weekend's train wreck.
DeWayne Wise - 6 of 17, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R since joining team - Go ahead and have a two month stretch of playing over your head, DeWayne.
Alex Rios - 1 for 4, HR, 3 RBI - Rios was understated the entire series, but made his only real blow to his former teammates the defining one of the game.
No one had a multi-hit night to really focus on. The White Sox scored seven runs on only six hits, five of which left the premises. No one needs to be creating lots of opportunities if they're all going to be maximized in such a way.
It's not that Aaron Laffey was cruising--he doesn't really cruise so much and skirt by--but he had saw his way into the 5th inning with a one-run lead to defend, and was just two frames away from handing it over to the bullpen, and receiving a round of handshakes and loving stares in the dugout.
But two straight flat sliders to Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers found their way to the left field stands, and the Jays never lead again. Viciedo ripped a shot that never got more than 25 feet off the ground, and Flowers lifted a ball that hit the third deck wall, and only then came within 25 feet of the ground.
Things Would Be Different If...
Four runs in the eight sucked the tension out of the stadium a bit, but Sox pitching had themselves a bit of a high-leverage situation in the 7th. With one out in the inning, the Jays brought in speedy but otherwise overmatched outfielder Anthony Gose to pinch-run from 1st.
Ventura decided to collect his winnings on Liriano's solid start, and replace him Jesse Crain. While Crain's pick-off move was no use in stopping Gose from taking second, his slider was good enough to strike out Moises Sierra (on a caught foul tip), who homered earlier and improbably served as one of the biggest threats in the lineup.
Past difficulties in the Rogers Centre will leave most thrilled with three wins out of four. The success might have been less a breakthrough and more of a product of Toronto's horrendous luck with health, but with the weekly grind of holding off Detroit getting closer and closer to the end, there's no point adjusting the results for luck. Any analysis of the 2012 White Sox good fortune will require several volumes.
Team Record: 65-52, 2.5 games up
More importantly, a fan in attendance appeared to have a cardiac event and require emergency medical attention. Best wishes, of course, but initial rumors are not good.