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.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

aaron judge
Cole Burston/Getty Images
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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.