Tis’ the August season when pitchers find themselves grinding through it.
Lance Lynn is doing just that for the White Sox. So is Craig Kimbrel.
Little aches and pains come with the territory this time of year. Lynn couldn’t get off the field fast enough to see the trainer during his last start but told everyone not to worry.
“See you in five days,” he said -after the game.
Which was Monday, when the Cy Young candidate threw seven strong innings of one-run ball in a stinging 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Sox’ third straight defeat against a quality opponent.
All-Star closer Kimbrel has been less than smooth since coming over from the Cubs at the trade deadline, and the Jays got the game-winner against him on an extremely wild pitch on an 0-2 fastball to Teoscar Hernandez with two outs in the eighth inning, scoring pinch runner Breyvic Valera. Kimbrel yanked it well wide of catcher Seby Zavala’s desperate reach, and Valera, running for Reese McGuire (leadoff infield single), slid under Kimbrel’s tag. He had advanced to second on a wild pitch on strike three to Bo Bichette and to third on a groundout to second.
Kimbrel was expected to give the Sox a lockdown back end of the bullpen with fellow closer Liam Hendriks, but it hasn’t taken shape yet.
“August is probably the toughest part, toughest stretch of the season,” Kimbrel said Sunday. “You hear it a lot, hey, just get through August, and when we get to September, you can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
It was Kimbrel’s first appearance since La Russa turned the lights out on him, pulling him in the eighth inning of Friday’s 7-5 win over the Rays.
“Whenever you come to a new team you have to find your way,” Lynn said, giving Kimbrel the vote of confidence he deserves. “Coming over at the trade deadline, it’s been kind of a weird transition, some weird things happening.”
Lynn was pulled after seven innings of five-hit ball, and at 86 pitches he said he had more in the tank.
“The pitching coach [Ethan Katz], Lance and me got together,” La Russa said. “He gave us what we had. Craig was the best choice.”
Lynn strung together five scoreless innings before Vladimir Guerrero’s single with two outs and first base open in the sixth scored Bo Bichette from second to even the score at 1. Moments earlier, second baseman Cesar Hernandez threw out Reese McGuire at third base on Bichette’s ground ball.
But throwing to Guerrero with a 3-0 count was an obvious mistake to everyone in the park, including La Russa, who was seen in the dugout with his arm around Zavala having a discussion.
La Russa declined to comment about the pitch but Lynn didn’t.
“That was stupid, no other way to say it,” Lynn said. “I was trying to throw a ball and it ran back over the plate. Terrible 3-0 strike, I wanted to move on to the next guy.”
Lynn would have moved on to the eighth, but said he was good with La Russa’s decision to pull him.
“I said, ‘I can give you another one,’ but it was pretty simple with the back end ready to go with Craig and Liam,” Lynn said. “You do that more times than not you’re going to have a chance to win.
Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah held the Sox scoreless until Yoan Moncada, Brian Goodwin and Andrew Vaughn singled in succession in the top of the sixth. Moncada had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. It was the 11th RBI in 16 games for Vaughn, but it was the Sox’ last hit of the night as three Jays relievers shut them down, including closer Jordan Romano, who got pinch-hitter Zack Collins looking at strike three to end it.