Spark comes from elsewhere, and White Sox hang on to win without Tim Anderson
“All our eyes are on October,” said Anderson, who missed his fourth consecutive start with sore legs.
After ‘‘being a little bit tight in the hammies’’ and getting four days of rest to get his valuable legs freshened up for the stretch run, shortstop Tim Anderson should be back in the White Sox’ lineup Wednesday.
‘‘We all know what the ultimate goal is,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘All our eyes are on October. But, man, it’s tough knowing the team’s needing me out there. I want to be out there. I just try to root the guys on and tell them I’ll be back.’’
The Sox (73-54) are one game above .500 without Anderson this season after their 5-2 victory Tuesday against the Blue Jays in Toronto, so he will be a welcome sight.
After losing three games in a row without their leadoff man and primary energy source and after scoring only one run in their previous two games combined, the Sox got off to a fast start. Luis Robert singled on the first pitch against Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios, Yoan Moncada singled on the third and Jose Abreu homered on the fifth, making it 3-0 about a minute into the game.
The Sox batted around in the first inning, also getting a bloop RBI double from Danny Mendick to make it 4-0, then held on for a victory that got dicey at the end, with Liam Hendriks getting five outs in a 39-pitch save.
The long wait in the first didn’t bother Sox right-hander Dylan Cease, who retired the first 11 batters he faced, striking out the side in the second and stringing together six zeros before Corey Dickerson homered with one out in the seventh. Cease (10-6, 3.92 ERA) finished seven innings, allowing one run and four hits, striking out seven and walking one.
‘‘The offense set the tone early,’’ Cease said. ‘‘For me, from there it’s just throw strikes and attack.’’
While they miss him, the Sox have too many potent hitters to be deeply affected by Anderson’s absence. Robert, Moncada and Abreu — who hit his 26th homer and raised his American League-leading RBI total to 96 with four — each had three hits and cleanup man Eloy Jimenez two on a night the Sox should have scored more runs. They finished with 18 hits.
Hendriks relieved Michael Kopech in the eighth, escaping a bases-loaded jam on a sharply hit double-play grounder by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He then got Santiago Espinal — the tying run at the plate — on a sharply hit grounder to second baseman Leury Garcia to end the game for his 29th save.
‘‘At that point, Liam was well-rested, and he has pitched the eighth before,’’ manager Tony La Russa said.
‘‘They were sitting on Michael’s fastball and hit it. If we have a chance for a save [Wednesday], we have [Craig] Kimbrel.’’
Watching the Sox lose three in a row without him while he rested his sore legs didn’t look good from Anderson’s vantage point in the dugout, and ‘‘it doesn’t feel good’’ knowing he’s not helping, he said. But the Sox lead the AL Central by 10 games and are ‘‘just being smart,’’ he said.
La Russa said that he expects Anderson to start Wednesday in the third game of the four-game series and that Robert will move down a spot to bat second against left-hander Robbie Ray.
The Sox are 18 games above .500 with Anderson in the lineup.
‘‘It could be coincidence, but Tim brings the numbers, the hits, clutch hits to the offense,’’ said right-hander Lucas Giolito, the Sox’ scheduled starter Wednesday. ‘‘But the energy and swagger he brings is infectious. It spreads around the dugout and to the other guys on the field. He’s always, always with the attitude of: ‘We’re not out of this. No matter what, we’ll make something happen this inning.’ He’s invaluable to our team.’’