Blue Jays outslug White Sox to cap first half

Blue Jays outslug White Sox to cap first half

Blue Jays outslug White Sox to cap first half
CHICAGO -- Sunday's finale against the White Sox still came down to the arm of Casey Janssen, despite the Blue Jays scoring more than five times as many runs as they had in the first two games of the series.

Toronto avoided a sweep and halted a three-game losing streak, entering the All-Star break at .500 by launching four home runs in the first 3 1/3 innings and turning to Janssen for a five-out save in an 11-9 win on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.

"I was just telling the trainers, I was like, 'Man, five outs seems like forever,'" Janssen said. "I got used to getting three. The little extended period was all right. I've obviously done it before in my career. It was just a little different than the last month or so."

Janssen is perfect in his last 12 save opportunities. He went at least 1 2/3 innings two other times this year, but never in a save situation until Sunday.

"I tried to keep moving in the dugout a little bit, keep my legs going," Janssen said. "Obviously, I pitch off of a lot of emotion and I don't want to come down. I was just trying to move around enough to keep the sweat going."

Manager John Farrell told Janssen before the eighth inning he would be pitching to Paul Konerko, regardless of the first two hitters left-hander Darren Oliver faced to start the inning. Janssen, who has allowed just one run in his last 13 appearances, struck out Konerko and forced Alex Rios to fly out to end the eighth inning.

"Today, we had to press him," Farrell said. "Obviously, with a five-out save, it's somewhat uncommon, but he was well-rested. Once again, he continues to work ahead in the count, throw strikes and has multiple pitches to attack both lefties and righties."

The Blue Jays rank second in the league with 127 home runs and have hit at least two long balls in eight of their last 12 games.

Even though Toronto has scored 10 or more runs seven times this season, Sunday's victory marked the first time the Blue Jays scored more than six runs in a game this month. They scored just two runs through the first two games of the series.

The Blue Jays have also launched at least four home runs in seven games, with two of those games ending in defeats. It appeared Toronto was in danger of losing another slugfest, despite leading the entire afternoon.

The White Sox never gave Toronto breathing room, jumping on starter Brett Cecil and the bullpen after the Blue Jays jumped to a 4-0 lead with two-run home runs by Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion to begin the game.

Rasmus is hitting .360 with two home runs against the White Sox this season, and Encarnacion has hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games.

"The first inning we put together, both Colby, who continues to swing the bat exceptionally well, Eddy with a big home run for us, we needed every run that we could put on the board the way this one turned out," Farrell said.

Cecil, who went 4 1/3 innings, allowed three runs in the first inning on a three-run homer by Rios and was charged with four runs in the fifth inning, after reliever Jesse Chavez surrendered a two-run triple to Alexei Ramirez with two inherited runners on base.

The first two runs of the fifth inning scored on an RBI fielder's choice by Adam Dunn and an RBI double by Rios, which ended the day for Cecil. The Blue Jays starter owns a 9.77 ERA his last three starts, having allowed 23 hits and four home runs in that span.

The bullpen didn't fare much better Sunday. Of the five pitchers to take the mound after Cecil, Jason Frasor was the only reliever not to allow a hit.

Frasor (1-1) tossed one inning to earn his first win of the season. He entered with no outs and two runners on in the seventh inning to relieve Luis Perez, who left with tightness in his elbow after allowing four hits.

Left fielder Rajai Davis said the Blue Jays are still in contention heading into the All-Star break, but he knows they have to hold their opponents to fewer runs if they want to make a playoff push.

"It's nice when we can swing and outslug our opponents, but it's tough to do that every day," Davis said. "We're looking forward to keeping the ball down in the zone on defense and having a better second half."

Rasmus got on base in four of his first five at-bats, adding an RBI double in the second inning. The Blue Jays launched their third home run in the third inning on a two-run shot by Kelly Johnson and their fourth home run in the fourth on a solo shot by Jeff Mathis.

"Against a good lineup like Toronto, they took advantage of all the mistakes," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. "We tried battling back but tip your hat to them, they kind of outslugged us today.

Toronto separated itself with a three-run sixth inning, beginning with Davis stealing second and third base before scoring on a wild pitch.

The Blue Jays recorded a season-high nine walks, including two apiece from Davis, Rasmus and Jose Bautista. Davis was the only starter not to record a hit, though he tied a career high with three stolen bases and scored two runs.

Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.