Biggio’s 3-run homer lifts Blue Jays over ChiSox

TORONTO – Cavan Biggio’s three-run homer handed the Toronto Blue Jays a 5-2 win over the struggling Chicago White Sox on Monday.

Whit Merrifield’s RBI double also came in the fourth inning as Toronto (14-9) won back-to-back games. Matt Chapman added a late RBI double in the seventh.

Chris Bassitt (3-2) allowed just two runs on three hits and three walks, getting four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings before leaving the game with lower back tightness.

Relievers Zach Pop of Brampton, Ont., Tim Mayza and Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., didn’t allow a run, with Romano picking up his eighth save of the season.

Andrew Vaughn’s two-run double in the third was all the offence Chicago (7-16) could muster in its fifth-straight loss.

Veteran Lance Lynn (0-3) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks over five innings of work, striking out four.

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Gregory Santos, Keynan Middleton and Jake Diekman came out of the White Sox’s bullpen, with Middleton surrendering a run.

Vaughn’s line drive to centre field gave Luis Robert Jr. and Andrew Benintendi ample time to run home in the third inning. It was Vaughn’s ninth double of the young season and 15th and 16th runs batted in.

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Chapman brought the 26,293 fans in attendance to their feet with a deep fly ball but Robert snagged the ball, just over the new lower centre-field wall at Rogers Centre. Chapman’s hit flew 404 feet, with dead centre field now 400 out from home plate.

The disappointment of that almost-homer seemed to awaken Toronto’s offence.

Alejandro Kirk walked in the next at bat, then Brandon Belt singled to right. Merrifield sent a bouncing double up the left-field line to score Kirk and cut Chicago’s lead to one.

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In the next at bat, Biggio launched a 362-foot shot to deep right field. His second of the season gave the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead.

Perhaps more impressively, a fan caught Biggio’s home run ball in his beer after it had bounced off one of the high-top tables in the new right-field deck that was part of the off-season renovations at Rogers Centre.

Bassitt was walked off the field by a member of Toronto’s training staff in the seventh. He had induced a groundout and then allowed a runner before leaving the game. Pop came on in relief, getting two outs to end the inning.

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The quality start lowered Bassitt’s earned-run average from 5.40 to 4.82.

Chapman made up for his near-homer three innings later, putting the ball just over Benintendi’s head in left field for a clean double. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who had reached based on a single and advanced to second on a rare stolen base, scored on Chapman’s hit for a 5-2 lead after seven frames.

Romano induced three fly-outs — including a sliding catch by centre-fielder Kevin Kiermaier — to seal the win.

ESPINAL BACK — Second baseman Santiago Espinal was available to play for the Blue Jays, two days after taking a fastball to the wrist from New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Espinal took ground balls during batting practice on Monday but Whit Merrifield started at second for Toronto.

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PEARSON RETURNS — Right-handed reliever Adam Cimber was placed on Toronto’s 15-day injured list hours before Monday’s game. The sidearmer was put on the IL with a rhomboid strain in his throwing arm. Hard-throwing righty Nate Pearson was recalled from the Blue Jays’ triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., in a corresponding move. Once a highly touted prospect, Pearson has not played for Toronto since 2021.

ON DECK — José Berríos (1-3) will take the mound on Tuesday in the second game of the Blue Jays’ three-game set with the White Sox.

Chicago will counter with Mike Clevinger (2-1).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2023.

&© 2023 The Canadian Press

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