TORONTO – A three-run homer by Jose Abreu. Crooked numbers on the scoreboard and come-from-behind rallies. And nine runs, their second-highest output of the season.
Almost everything seemed to be going for the White Sox on Tuesday night, but staying in step with a season of things gone wrong, they suffered a crunching 10-9 defeat on Josh Donaldson’s three-run, opposite field home run against closer David Robertson to give the Jays a 10-9 victory at Rogers Centre.
Robertson, a Sox bright spot this season who got the last out of the eighth inning, blew his second save opportunity of the season, this one with a two-run lead. Josh Thole and Jose Reyes led off the ninth with a single and double, respectively.
Donaldson also homered against starter John Danks.
“Fastball away,” Robertson said. “I caught too much middle, he put a great swing on it and that was just a good hitter doing a good job up there.’’
The Sox were looking at tying this series that opened an 11-game trip with a chance to take it Wednesday afternoon with Jeff Samardzija on the mound.
“It’s frustrating to me because the team played really well,’’ Robertson said. “They battled their butts off today. For me to give it up is really tough. We needed this win. I have to live with it.’’
For a team that had lost six of its previous seven games, in large part because of a sputtering offense that totaled three runs or less in the previous eight games, pouring it on a little against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays bullpen was a welcome relief for the Sox.
If only they had a strong outing from the starting pitcher and a clean game in the field to wrap around that. With John Danks giving up five runs on six hits including five doubles (two to Jose Bautista) and home run to Donaldson, the Sox needed all of it to stay in the game. As has been their aggravating custom, they did their pitcher no favors with a less than clean defensive performance.
“We all know we’re not playing the best baseball right now,’’ said Abreu, who belted his eighth homer to put the Sox in front in the fifth inning and beat out a replay-challenged double-play ball to give them the lead in the eighth. “There are many games left, keep playing hard and the wins will come.’’
Only if the Sox (19-24) tidy things up. When Abreu couldn’t complete a not-easy-but-makeable running, over-the-shoulder catch of Donaldson’s foul pop down the line with two outs in the third inning, Donaldson and Bautista took advantage by ripping back-to-back doubles against Danks, the latter sailing over the head of center fielder Adam Eaton, who made a poor read, and scoring in a pair of runs.
When right fielder J.B. Shuck mishandled Bautista’s third double of the night along the side wall in the seventh, Donaldson was able to score from first with the go-ahead run. Carlos Sanchez was given an error for mishandling Shuck’s throw.
But Sanchez (double), Abreu, Eaton (RBI single) and Alexei Ramirez (RBI single), whose failure to execute a double play the night before proved costly, were the headliners in a three-run eighth.
The Sox know they have to be better soon or kiss the season goodbye.
“You can sit here and think all day and be upset about how the season started but until we lace it up, go out and play see production, it’s going to be the same type of result,’’ Eaton said before the game.
“It’s no one else’s fault but the players. The players are the product on the field. We have to manufacture runs on the offensive side, starting in the first inning, and pitchers need to do their job.’’
The frustration is mounting for the Sox. Danks slammed his glove in the dugout after his night was over.
“Any loss is frustrating, but those guys scored nine runs for us,” he said of the offense. “We had the lead a couple of times, and I’d give it right back. That’s the most frustrating part. I definitely feel like I had better stuff than what I did, but I’ve got to pitch better.”