White Sox homer three times, top Guardians for second straight win

Gavin Sheets, Jake Burger and Andrew Vaughn went deep, and Mike Clevinger threw six-plus innings of two-run ball.

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Gavin Sheets homered for the second time in two games against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Gavin Sheets homered for the second time in two games against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Gavin Sheets made the declaration.

“This isn’t over,” the White Sox right fielder said. “It’s not over. We have too much talent to lay [down].”

Eloy Jimenez, itching to come back from an appendectomy to aid the cause, concurred.

“How many games are left?” Jimenez asked.

One hundred eighteen is the answer after the Sox’ 7-2 win Wednesday against the Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.

That should be enough to make up eight games, the distance between the Sox and the first-place Twins in the vulnerable American League Central.

“It’s not late,” Jimenez said. “A hundred and something games. When we come back ... we can be in first place.”

The 16-28 Sox have nowhere to ride but the optimism highway. The Twins are four games over .500.

“This two-week stretch is extremely important for us,” said Sheets, alluding to 11 more games in a row against the Guardians, Royals and Tigers of the AL Central. “It’s going to be crucial for this season. There’s a sense of urgency in this clubhouse.”

Getting within four games of the defending champion Guardians and eyeing a series sweep with Dylan Cease starting Thursday afternoon, the Sox took the second game of the series behind the home-run power of Sheets, Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger. Mike Clevinger pitched six-plus innings of two-run ball against his former team.

Sheets clubbed his second homer in two nights, a 413-foot, game-tying shot to center in the second against Guardians righty Peyton Battenfield. It was Sheets’ sixth of the season.

Vaughn led off the fourth with his fifth homer, and the free-swinging Burger poked his 10th of the season and third in three games three batters later, a two-run shot scoring Yasmani Grandal. Burger also tripled in the eighth inning.

Burger’s home-run swing was his 23rd straight hack without a take.

“Blew my mind a little bit when I heard that,” Burger said.

In that stretch, Burger was 6-for-10 with three homers. His 1.095 OPS leads the team.

“We are piecing hits together, one through nine,” Burger said. “It’s really exciting and really fun.”

On the downside, Grandal aggravated a troublesome hamstring when he singled in the sixth and is day-to-day, manager Pedro Grifol said. Grandal had two hits, raising his average to .295 with an .811 OPS.

“We need his bat,” Grifol said.

The Guardians, playing the series without All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez (bereavement list) and Josh Naylor (leg soreness), fell to 19-22, four games ahead of the Sox.

Clevinger (six innings, six hits, two runs, five strikeouts) loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh before getting pulled in favor of Reynaldo Lopez, who walked in a run. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert and Clevinger all made good defensive plays.

“It feels like all our games are starting to come together: hitting, pitching, defense,” Clevinger said. “Earlier in the year, one or the other was off and it feels good to have the complete package.”

In the first game of the series Tuesday, an 8-3 win, the Sox got a strong start from Lance Lynn and homers from Sheets and Luis Robert Jr. It came off series losses to the last-place Royals and defending World Series champion Astros.

“It reminds us how good we can be,” Grifol said. “The beauty about this game is whether you put a game like that together or not, you still have to come back the next day and do it again.”

The Sox need to keep the pedal on the metal. They have one three-game winning streak and won two in a row for only the second time all year.

“Hopefully we can build some momentum,” Grifol said.

“We’re capable of doing that on a consistent basis. Just reminds us, hey, we’re pretty good. We’ve got to stay focused, stay the course and play hard and work hard.”

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