Kirk HRs twice, Jays beat White Sox 6-5 for 6th straight win

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — Alejandro Kirk hit a pair of two-run home runs in Toronto’s 6-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, which extended the Blue Jays’ winning streak to six games.

Kevin Gausman (5-3) pitched five innings to win his second straight start, getting five strikeouts while allowing three runs, six hits and one walk. The right-hander has won four of his past six outings.

Toronto is 15-7 in one-run games, the best such record in the majors, and have won four consecutive one-run decisions. Chicago lost for the third time in four games and fell below .500 (23-24).

Kirk connected in the second for his second of the season, then went deep again with a two-out drive in the fifth, the third multi-homer game of his career.

“I’m just trying to be more selective and looking for the pitch I want,” Kirk said through a translator. “I’m trying not to chase and it’s getting the results I’m looking for by doing that.”

“He’s nice and relaxed again and doing what he does,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of Kirk, who hit .347 in May with 11 RBI in 23 games. “He’s not striking out and he puts the ball in play.”

Both of Kirk’s homers came off of White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito (3-2), who allowed season-highs of six runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings and raised his ERA from 2.63 to 3.61. Giolito hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his seven prior starts this season, but it was the third time he’s given up at least two home runs.

“I just let it snowball,” Giolito said. “I put up a big crooked number. It’s just very frustrating.”

Andrew Vaughn homered and had four hits and two RBI for the White Sox, who began a stretch without All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson. He is expected to miss at least three weeks after straining his right groin in Sunday’s win over the Cubs.

“It really stings, but we’ve got to have the next-man-up mentality,” Vaughn said of Anderson’s extended absence.

Trevor Richards allowed two runs without retiring any of the four batters he faced in the sixth but Adam Cimber, Yimi Garcia and Julian Merryweather each worked one scoreless inning and Jordan Romano finished for his AL-leading 16th save in 18 chances.

Four straight Chicago batters reached against Richards to begin the sixth as Reese McGuire‘s second double of the game drove in a run to make it 6-5.

Cimber came on and got Danny Mendick to ground into an RBI fielder’s choice, with McGuire advancing to third. Grandal followed with a fly ball to left but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. threw Mendick out at second base to end the inning – with the out coming before McGuire could score the tying run.

La Russa said Mendick apologized after the game, but the manager didn’t fault his shortstop.

“I said, `First of all, tagging up on that play is a good play, but you’ve got a throw right in front of you,”‘ La Russa said. “If the throw goes there, you’ve just got to stop. He stops, the run scores.”

Mendick and Vaughn had RBI hits off Gausman in the fifth as Chicago took a 3-2 lead but Toronto scored four in the bottom half on Kirk’s second homer and a two-run double by Teoscar Hernandez that fell beyond the reach of diving center fielder Adam Engel. All four runs came with two outs.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: OF Luis Robert was activated off the COVID-19 IL. … Anderson’s IL stint is retroactive to May 30. . OF AJ Pollock sat because of a non-COVID illness. . INF Yoan Moncada (quadriceps) did not start for the fourth straight game. . OF Eloy Jimenez (right hamstring) missed his second straight game at Triple-A Charlotte. Jimenez left Saturday’s game because of soreness in his leg.

SWEET SIXTEEN

Giolito had gone 16 consecutive starts without allowing more than three earned runs. It last happened Aug. 4, 2021, against Kansas City.

ROSTER MOVES

Toronto recalled RHP Trent Thornton from Triple-A Buffalo. LHP Ryan Borucki was designated for assignment.

UP NEXT

White Sox RHP Michael Kopech (1-1, 1.29) will face Blue Jays LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (2-0, 5.48) on Wednesday night. Ryu went 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA in two 2021 starts against Chicago.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.