Vaughn, Pollock homer, White Sox beat Royals 7-1

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO – Andrew Vaughn and A.J. Pollock each cracked a two-run homer and singled, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 7-1 on Thursday.

Leury Garcia and Elvis Andrus added two hits and an RBI apiece for the White Sox, who won their second straight following a five-game slide to climb back within a game of .500 (65-66).

Chicago improved to 2-1 under bench coach Miguel Cairo, who is filling in as manager while Tony La Russa is on indefinite leave to undergo tests for an unspecified health issue.

The defending AL Central champions, who began the day five games behind first-place Cleveland, held a players-only meeting before the game. Chicago is seeking its third straight playoff appearance.

“It’s no secret, you know, we haven’t played really good baseball this year,” said Pollock, who went deep for the second straight game. “We’ve underperformed and I feel like there’s been times where we put a lot into it and it hasn’t worked out and it’s been really deflating.

“But at the same time, we’re got to keep showing up. We’ve got to keep pushing and pushing. We know we’ve got the group. We know we’ve got the players that can make that run. I mean, we can’t wait. This is it.”

The White Sox have 31 games left, starting with a three-game home series against second-place Minnesota.

Many of Chicago’s big offensive names have been injured or just fizzled during much of 2022. But the White Sox were a little pluckier at the plate in three games against Kansas City, hitting seven homers and taking 11 walks.

“They’re not chasing bad pitches,” Cairo said. “And when they see it’s right, they’re swinging.

“If we hit the ball in the strike zone, be careful with this offense. This offense is dangerous.”

Johnny Cueto (7-6) allowed one run on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking none and striking out five. The 36-year-old right-hander rebounded from a rough outing last Friday when he allowed seven runs in five innings to Arizona.

Five Chicago relievers combined to throw two-hit ball the rest of the way.

“Today we played hard,” Cueto said through a translator. “Right now, we’re playing with excitement and hype. I think the team really has chemistry right now and we just need to go running on that.”

Vaughn’s homer was his 15th, matching his total last year as a rookie. Chicago is 4-10 since reaching a season-high five games above .500 on Aug 16.

Kansas City rookie infielder Michael Massey had a double in his first three-hit game. The 24-year-old, who made hit major league debut on July 13, finished 3-for-3 with a walk.

Massey, from Chicago’s southwest suburbs, grew up a White Sox fan and had friends and family in the stands for the series.

Fellow Royals rookie Drew Waters had a single and double for his third multi-hit game in nine since making his debut on Aug. 22. The 23-year-old right fielder also made a leaping catch against the wall on Pollock’s drive to end the second.

Daniel Mengden (0-1) yielded three runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings in his fifth appearance and first start for the Royals this season. The righty was recalled from Triple-A Omaha before the game.

Kansas City jumped ahead 1-0 in the third. Waters scored from third when M.J. Melendez grounded into a forceout at second.

Chicago came back with three in the bottom half. Andrus drove in a run with a single and Vaughn followed with a deep drive to left on the Mengden’s first pitch to him.

Filling in for the injured Yoan Moncada at third, Garcia made a running catch with his back to the infield on Ryan O'Hearn‘s pop down the left field line in the top of the sixth.

The White Sox upped their lead to 5-1 in the sixth on RBI singles from Garcia and Romy Gonzalez. Pollock went deep in the eighth.

ROSTER EXPANSION

Both teams added players as rosters expanded to 28 for September

The Royals selected Mengden and recalled OF Nate Eaton from Triple-A Omaha. The White Sox recalled RHP Matt Foster and OF Adam Haseley from Triple-A-Charlotte.

DAD DUTIES

White Sox CF Luis Robert is travelling to Florida for the birth of his second child and probably will return within a week, Cairo said. Robert has been limited to defensive replacement and pinch-running roles as he recovers from left wrist soreness.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: C Salvador Perez was returned to the starting lineup behind the plate after sitting out Wednesday with lower back tightness.

White Sox: DH Eloy Jimenez left with right leg soreness in the seventh inning.

UP NEXT

Royals: LHP Daniel Lynch (4-9, 4.70 ERA) will face Tigers RHP Drew Hutchison (2-7, 4.01) at Detroit on Friday.

White Sox: RHP Davis Martin (2-4, 4.62) faces visiting Minnesota’s Sonny Gray (7-4, 3.04) in Friday’s series opener.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.