TORONTO – The fifth inning made all the difference for the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
Chicago made the plays and scored three runs, while Toronto’s offence and defence both stalled as the White Sox eked out a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.
After Chicago took a 3-2 lead, the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion hit a sharp ball toward third base. What looked like a line drive that would break open the game for Toronto instead landed in the glove of White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis who started a rally-killing double play.
“As it turns out both sides of the fifth inning were the difference tonight,” said Toronto manager John Farrell. “Edwin has been taking good swings and unfortunately he hit that ball and it’s a line drive out.”
What turned out to be the winning run in the fifth inning came home from third after Jays starter Henderson Alvarez threw the ball wildly to first on a pickoff attempt for his second error of the game.
“That’s just one of those that’s a gift,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. “We’ll take it.”
It spoiled a good outing by Alvarez (7-10) who made some adjustments between to starts to enable him to keep the ball down and held the White Sox to three runs (two earned), seven hits and no walks.
“He did not help his cause with that pickoff attempt but he threw the ball well,” Farrell said,
Left-hander Jose Quintana (5-2) held the Blue Jays to two runs on eight hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings.
Addison Reed allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings to earn his 21st save to equal the White Sox rookie record set by Salome Barojas.
Toronto (55-61) went ahead 2-0 in the third. Rajai Davis led off with a double, stole third and came home on Mike McCoy’s grounder to Chicago’s shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
The White Sox (63-52) then grabbed the lead with their three-run fifth.
A.J. Pierzynski led off with a single, moved to second on a one-out single by Dayan Viciedo and took third on Gordon Beckham’s fly out to the warning track in right. Alejandro De Aza singled to score a run. Dewayne Wise singled to tie the game.
Alvarez threw wildly on a pickoff throw to first base to allow De Aza to score to put Chicago into the lead.
“When I’m on base, I try for any chance to get to the next base,” De Aza said. “I took a good, good jump, I read the ball very well. I didn’t think there was going to be a play.”
The Blue Jays had a chance to turn the game in their favour when they loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth but Encarnacion lined into a double play as Davis strayed too far off second.
“He squares the ball up and Youkilis makes a of hell of a play,” Farrell said. “Rajai is a little aggressive at second base there and gets doubled up.”
Added Quintana: “I’ve got to give Youkilis a lot of credit. It’s not what you’re expecting but it’s what you’re hoping for.”
The Blue Jays threatened in the seventh when Adeiny Hechavarria doubled with one out and Davis walked. McCoy hit a fly out to deep centre and Quintana was removed for reliever right-hander Brett Myers who ended the inning on a line drive to centre by Encarnacion.
The Blue Jays again threatened in the eighth when David Cooper led off with a double against left-hander Matt Thornton. Thornton retired the next two batters before being replaced by right-hander Reed.
Pinch-runner Anthony Gose stole third easily. Reed struck out pinch-hitter Yan Gomes to end the inning.
The Blue Jays scored a run in the first. Davis led off with a single and was forced at second on McCoy’s bunt to the catcher.
McCoy took second on a single by Encarnacion and scored on a two-out single by Yunel Escobar.
It was a loss but a good game for Alvarez.
“He threw strikes and he was throwing his sinker to both sides of the plate to get some early outs, he threw the ball really well,” said Toronto catcher Jeff Mathis.
“He made a slight adjustment with his delivery,” Farrell said, “Not so much of a rotation over the rubber that allowed him to get his hand out front more consistently and as a result he was on the plate with all three pitches tonight.
“He had more depth to his slider than he had and he had more separation with his velocity on fastball and his change-up.”
Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 18,919….Catcher Jeff Mathis was signed to a two-year US$3-million contract extension for 2013-2014 with a $1.5-million club option for 2015. …The Blue Jays signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a minor-league deal and he will report to double-A New Hampshire. He will play four games there from Thursday through Sunday before joining the Blue Jays to share the catching with Mathis. …Toronto centre-fielder Colby Rasmus was a late scratch after being in the original lineup. He had not played since Friday because of a groin injury when he hit a pinch-hit single in the ninth on Tuesday. …McCoy started in centre field. ..Right-fielder Jose Bautista (left wrist) continued to do some batting drills and reported no pain but there is still no date set for a return, He has not played since July 16…Left-hander Ricky Romero (8-9, 5.32 earned-run average) will start for Toronto Wednesday against Chicago’s Gavin Floyd (8-9, 4.43 ERA)