20-hit wonders: White Sox offense overpowers A's again

Lynn returning to form as Chicago's September surge continues

September 11th, 2022

OAKLAND -- If hitting is contagious, then the White Sox must be infected.

After bursting out for 21 hits in Thursday's series-opening win, the White Sox rode yet another 20-hit effort to an outsized 10-2 victory over the A's, securing a series win with a chance to go for the four-game sweep on Sunday. Chicago has now won four straight and nine of its last 11 games.

It was the second time in franchise history that the White Sox have recorded two 20-plus-hit games within a three-game span -- and the only time they've done it against the same team. Chicago first accomplished the feat against Cleveland and Minnesota from June 19-21, 1974.

"I think it's just a boost in confidence," White Sox left fielder Andrew Vaughn said. "Hitting's contagious, and I think we're all feeding off that, and using every game and just rolling with it."

There was no shortage of big days at the plate up and down Chicago's lineup. Vaughn and AJ Pollock each recorded four hits, while Eloy Jiménez and Josh Harrison collected three knocks apiece. Elvis Andrus and José Abreu also had multihit games, keeping their torrid Septembers going with two hits each.

Chicago's surging bats provided a nice cushion for right-hander Lance Lynn -- not that he needed much help on that end. Lynn went six innings, allowing two unearned runs to keep the A's at bay.

But early on in the game, it looked like Lynn's day might be over before it had even really started.

After making quick work of A's leadoff man Tony Kemp by getting him to ground out on his second pitch of the game, Lynn got his next batter, Vimael Machín, to tap the ball slowly to first. White Sox first baseman José Abreu fielded the ball cleanly and got the unassisted out.

Lynn, who had been running over to cover first, pulled up short once Abreu made the out, bending over in apparent pain with his hands on his knees. He was slow to walk back to the mound, where he was met by acting manager Miguel Cairo, pitching coach Ethan Katz and head trainer James Kruk. After seemingly shaking out his right knee and throwing a few warmup pitches, Lynn remained in the game.

Lynn later downplayed the moment, saying he was just shaking some rust off.

"Just getting loose," he explained. "Morning game, took a minute to get going."

Cairo said Lynn had felt something flare up in his lower body, but it didn't affect him past that first inning. Still, he praised Lynn's drive to get the job done regardless of how he felt.

"He's a horse," Cairo said. "We've got a bunch of horses here. All our pitching staff, they're a bunch of horses that want to go out there and do their job."

That effort didn't go unnoticed by his teammates, who drew some motivation from Lynn.

"He's a warrior out there," Pollock said. "If he can do it, he's going to go out there and give us a couple innings if he can. Obviously he was okay, and he came back, and stuff looked good. He's one of our leaders for sure."

Lynn re-finding the form that has earned him Cy Young Award consideration in the last three seasons would be a huge asset to Chicago's stretch run. Though the 35-year-old righty's overall stat line remains inflated by a rough start to the season, he has made considerable strides in the last month.

First 11 starts of 2022: 2-5, 5.88 ERA, 43 runs (39 earned), 59 2/3 innings
Last six starts of '22: 4-0, 1.19 ERA, nine runs (five earned), 37 2/3 innings

"He dealt with injury the whole beginning of the year, really," Vaughn said. "He's coming out, he's got some fire and he's throwing the ball really, really well."

Chicago's formidable rotation has been key as the Sox continue to surge in the AL Central standings. Entering Saturday, White Sox starters had a 2.25 ERA in the last 10 games -- a mark that ranks third in the Majors in that span. The rotation, just like the rest of the team, is finally finding its groove.

The White Sox have a chip on their shoulder after a disappointing start to the season, and it's driving them now. As Cairo explains it, they're on a mission.

"They know what is [at] stake," Cairo said. "They know that we're better than what we showed before. And I'm telling you, they know that every day they go out there, we're going to have a chance."