It took no time for Tim Anderson to make his presence felt.
Back in uniform for the first time since straining his groin on May 29, Anderson lined a single to center leading off the first inning for the White Sox in their 8-7 win over the Blue Jays Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field. Andrew Vaughn followed with a double against Jose Berrios, and the Sox’ home stand was off and running with Anderson dashing from first to home.
“He’s the spark plug of all spark plugs,” Vaughn said. “The man can flat-out hit and he gets on base dang near all the time.”
Sox hitters followed Anderson’s lead. Vaughn had four hits including a home run, Josh Harrison hit his first homer of the season and Luis Robert launched a 436-foot homer, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Vaughn, who raised his average to .330, has reached safely 20 times in his last 34 plate appearances.
It was good to have Anderson, the Sox’ top hitter, shortstop and energy source back from a groin injury suffered against the Cubs on May 29.
“I want to be careful of putting too much pressureon him, but he thrives on it. It’s important that he knows how important he is. That’s what he’s earned. We’re better because he’s here.”
Anderson’s teammates have been saying that while he was gone. They lost their first four games, three of them to the Jays in Toronto, and were 8-10 without him. The Sox were 123-89 since 2020 with Anderson in the lineup and 36-38 without.
“It feels great to be one person, and they think that highly of me, to be able to slide in one spot and do that much damage,” Anderson said before the game.
Anderson’s return, coupled with right-hander Lance Lynn’s formidable mound presence, added a double-edged sharpness that’s been absent without them. Lynn, who barked at third base coach Joe McEwing in the dugout in Detroit in his first start of the season Tuesday, was yelling to no one in particular and pumping fists after inning-ending strikeouts.
“I feel like we [feed off] Lynn big time,” Vaughn said. “It’s huge. That energy, emotion, drive is going to push everybody and lift everybody up.”
Lynn allowed five runs but only three earned in five-plus innings, throwing 99 pitches. Third baseman Jake Burger made his sixth error in front of Raimel Tapia’s homer in the second and an error on catcher Reese McGwire on Anderson’s high relay throw in the sixth set up an RBI groundout for the Jays’ fifth run.
Lynn struck out five and should have had six when umpire Ramon DeJesus called ball four on a 3-2 pitch to Vladimir Guerrero in the sixth that had all of the plate, leaving Lynn biting on his his glove. Hernandez followed with an RBI double.
“It’s always pitching on the South Side,” Lynn said, “especially in the Southside jerseys. The offense came to play tonight and we made some plays defensively, too.”
Harrison, who is 12-for-35 in June after an awful April and May, laid out for a diving stop and made two other nice plays at second base.
The Sox got their seventh and eighth runs in the fifth on McGuire’s RBI groundout and Adam Engel’s RBI single. McGuire, who singled in the third against the team that traded him in spring training, has an 11-game hitting streak.
Reynaldo Lopez struck out three in two innings of scoreless relief of Lynn and Kendall Graveman pitched a scoreless eighth working against the heart of the Jays lineup.
“To me, one of the stars is Reynaldo Lopez,” said La Russa. “No bigger star than him.”
Cavan Biggio’s two-run homer against Joe Kelly pitched the ninth made it a one-run game, but the Sox beat the Jays for the first time this season and kept a good thing going after going 4-2 on a road trip in Detroit and Houston.