TORONTO (AP) For many hitters, getting the green light on a 3-0 count late in a tie ballgame is akin to baseball nirvana.
Jose Abreu is not one of those hitters, but he didn’t let that prevent him from powering the Chicago White Sox to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Leading off the eighth inning, the Chicago slugger sent the next pitch from reliever Ryan Tepera (1-1) an estimated 430 feet into the second deck in left-center field at Rogers Centre to help snap Toronto’s four-game winning streak.
”It’s something that I don’t really like, the 3-0 hack,” Abreu said through a translator. ”I miss a lot.”
His second home run of the year was also the 126th of his career, snapping a tie for 14th place in franchise history with former White Sox infielder Joe Crede. The homer was Chicago’s major league-high 14th of the season, following Matt Davidson’s fourth of the year in the second inning.
Chicago manager Rick Renteria credited Abreu with working the count and waiting for his pitch.
”If he pops that up and makes an out, everybody’s going to wonder, `What the heck are you doing?”’ Renteria said. ”He happened to hit it out of the ballpark, so good for him and good for us.”
After avoiding their first three-game sweep in Toronto since 2004, the White Sox return to Chicago for Thursday’s home opener against the Detroit Tigers.
In his first start of the season, right-hander Carson Fulmer held Toronto to three runs and five hits over five innings.
”It’s good to get the first one out of the way,” he said. ”I made a lot of really good pitches, did pretty well against a really talented lineup.”
Nate Jones (1-0) earned the win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Joakim Soria got his second save with a flawless ninth.
Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez went six innings, allowing five hits and three earned runs while striking out seven.
”It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Sanchez said after his second start of the year. ”I felt like I was good, for the most part.”
Despite watching his club’s winning streak come to an end, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he likes what he is seeing as Toronto embarks on its first road trip of the season.
”I think we’re playing a pretty good brand of baseball,” he said. ”We’ve been swinging the bats. If a couple key guys in that lineup get some things going, we’re going to be that much better.”
CAUGHT ON CAMERA
After Toronto tied the score at 1 in the fourth, an odd play in the top of the fifth put the White Sox back in front.
With the bases loaded and one out, Yoan Moncada hit a fly ball to the fence in left field. Curtis Granderson attempted to make the catch, but the ball squirted out of his glove and he barehanded the ball before it hit the ground.
After the umpires initially called Moncada out, the White Sox challenged the call and video review showed the ball had hit the fence before Granderson’s glove.
”We were very confident,” Renteria said. ”It didn’t take us very long for us to ask them to go ahead and take a look at it.”
Moncada was awarded a single, which brought in Welington Castillo to score from third. Chicago added to its lead one batter later when Avisail Garcia was hit by a pitch.
The Blue Jays failed to hit a home run for the first time this season, leaving just the White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals as the only teams with at least one homer in every game so far.
LEADING OFF COURSE
After going 0 for 4, Blue Jays leadoff hitter Devon Travis is 1 for 20 on the season.
Blue Jays: SS Aledmys Diaz was held out because of the back spasms that forced him out of Tuesday’s game. Gibbons said Diaz was ”feeling much better,” and though he was available in an emergency, hoped that a day off followed by a travel day Thursday could be enough to get him back in the lineup Friday at Texas. Gift Ngoepe started in Diaz’s place.
White Sox: RHP James Shields (1-0, 6.00 ERA) brings his 23-12 record and 2.91 ERA in April starts into Chicago’s home opener Thursday as the White Sox open a three-game set against Detroit. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 6.00) takes the mound for the Tigers.
Blue Jays: Following a day off Thursday, RHP Marco Estrada (0-0, 3.86) makes his second start of the season as Toronto hits the road for the first time Friday in Texas. The Rangers counter with LHP Matt Moore (0-1, 9.00), who is 5-2 against the Blue Jays in 10 starts.
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