Craig Kimbrel adjusts, breezes through Blue Jays for first save with White Sox

Kimbrel closed out a 10-7 victory with a swift, six-pitch scoreless ninth inning.

SHARE Craig Kimbrel adjusts, breezes through Blue Jays for first save with White Sox
The White Sox’ Craig Kimbrel and Seby Zavala shake hands after Thursday’s win over the Blue Jays.

The White Sox’ Craig Kimbrel and Seby Zavala shake hands after Thursday’s win over the Blue Jays.

Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Craig Kimbrel got his first save in a White Sox uniform, closing out a 10-7 victory with a six-pitch scoreless ninth inning against the Blue Jays.

Don’t think Kimbrel, the all-time active saves leader with 371, was effective because it happened to be the ninth inning, he said.

“It had nothing to do with what inning it was,” Kimbrel said. “It had everything to do with what I’ve been working on the last couple of days and executing that. I was able to execute my pitches and get the job done.”

Kimbrel has been working the somewhat-unfamiliar territory of the eighth inning with Liam Hendriks holding down most ninth-inning opportunities. Kimbrel had been tabbed to pitch the ninth before, but circumstances didn’t play out.

He threw all strikes, striking out Bo Bichette and breezing through the first four batters in the Jays’ aggressive lineup.

“I’ve been getting in a bad habit of getting around the ball and yanking it,” said Kimbrel, who entered with a 5.79 ERA in 10 appearances.

“At times, if everything’s perfect, and the spin is great, I can throw a strike. But more times than not, it turns into a yank. But we noticed some things, worked on some things the last couple of days, just staying back and getting behind the ball, and it seemed like my ball was spinning like it was supposed to today.”

Hitting coach: Stick to basics

For the Sox’ lineup, it’s about taking walks when they’re there for the taking, being aggressive when pitches are there to be hit and not expanding the strike zone, hitting coach Frank Menechino said.

“Are they hitting the pitches they’re supposed to hit? Are they chasing out of the zone? That’s basically the product of scoring runs and getting on base,” Menechino said.

Menechino spoke before the Sox played the Jays in the last game of a four-game series in Toronto. The Sox had scored no runs, one run, five runs and one run in their previous four games but broke out with 10 Thursday.

“We haven’t been hitting the pitches we’re supposed to hit; we’ve been chasing out of the zone,” Menechino said. “When we’re hitting good, we’re hitting strikes, we’re not chasing out of the zone and we’re taking our walks.”

Grandal in town for Crosstown

Yasmani Grandal will probably be back for the series against the Cubs after having knee surgery in early July, and with three days off in an eight-day stretch after the series, manager Tony La Russa said he can probably catch two of the three games. Grandal would be an option at designated hitter when he doesn’t catch.

“The answer is just to really see how much work he had to put in, block a lot of balls, get on base a lot, see how he comes back the next day,” La Russa said.

La Russa said the Sox won’t keep three catchers, which means Zack Collins or Seby Zavala will be optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

This and that

Righty Evan Marshall (elbow) began his minor-league rehab stint with Charlotte.

Adam Engel (left shoulder inflammation) has made ‘‘some progress the last two days with the different workouts, [but] I did not see in the report that he’s close to being able to go out and play,” La Russa said.

Yoan Moncada tweaked something in his wrist during an at-bat Wednesday night and checked out fine. His day off Thursday was planned, La Russa said.

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