The first inning could have gotten away from Lance Lynn and the Chicago White Sox.
First, there was a walk. Then left fielder Andrew Benintendi couldn’t come up with the catch on a nice diving attempt that resulted in a double. Finally, on a grounder to third Yoán Moncada was unsuccessful attempting to tag out the runner going back to bag.
With that, the Detroit Tigers had the bases loaded with no outs.
Somehow, Lynn limited the damage to one run. That was critical in a 12-3 victory in front of 21,701 on Friday at Comerica Park.
“Walking the leadoff guy after getting three (runs) is not something you want to do,” Lynn said. “We were able to do some things and I was able to get out of it with just one, and the rest is kind of history.”
Lynn allowed three runs, one earned, on three hits with five strikeouts and five walks in six innings.
“Tremendous outing for Lance,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “He was challenged on things that were out of his control early. He had 56 pitches in the first two innings and he had to economize some pitches.
“(He) threw 24 pitches total in the third, fourth and fifth and he had his best game for me. The challenges he had to go through. He kept making pitches.”
The Sox (22-31) moved within five games of first-place Minnesota in the American League Central with the win and the Twins’ 3-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Lynn received plenty of offensive support as the Sox had 17 hits, including four by Tim Anderson and three by Moncada. Anderson scored three runs and Moncada had three RBIs.
Andrew Vaughn also drove in three, hitting a two-run homer and knocking in one with a double.
“We put great at-bats together one through nine,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn helped give Lynn a three-run lead before throwing his first pitch, beginning the scoring with the RBI double. Yasmani Grandal drove in two with a single as the Sox scored all three with two outs.
“That’s important. Two-out RBIs are critical to a team’s success,” Grifol said. “The other club is almost out of it, they think they’re out of it and all of a sudden you get a big base hit with two outs and you put a crooked number on the board — that’s really big.”
The Tigers were in position to get right back in the game in the bottom of the first, loading the bases with no outs. Lynn struck out Spencer Torkelson, and Nick Maton lined out to Vaughn at first base. Lynn then got Akil Baddoo to hit a grounder to third. A ranging Moncada had no play for a run-scoring infield hit.
Lynn struck out Miguel Cabrera looking to keep it 3-1.
“He just kept pounding the strike zone with really good stuff,” Grifol said. “He keeps getting stronger and stronger. What I liked about him (Friday) and every day is nothing fazes him that much. He gets mad but that kind of feeds his adrenaline.”
The Sox responded with a run in the second on an RBI triple by Benintendi.
It was the first of three triples for the Sox, their most in a game since hitting three on Sept. 9, 2017, against the San Francisco Giants at Guaranteed Rate Field. The second came in the fourth when Clint Frazier tripled and scored on a groundout by Hanser Alberto.
Moncada drove in a run with a triple, and Vaughn followed with the two-run homer in the fifth, stretching the lead to 8-1.
That was more than enough for Lynn, who allowed one hit in his final five innings.
“Throughout the season you’re going to have times when you feel good and times when you don’t. You have to make do with what you have that day,” Lynn said. “Even when I got behind, I was able to make a pitch and the defense made a great play behind me.
“Just have to keep getting better each day. The walks were bad, but you have to make a pitch here and there to get out of an inning.”