CHICAGO — Tony La Russa recorded his first career win against a St. Louis Cardinals team where he won two World Series titles, three pennants and 1,408 games over 16 seasons as manager during a 5-1 White Sox victory Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
But the bigger story ended up being Lance Lynn’s first career win against a team which selected him in the first round of the 2008 mlb Draft and let him go to free agency after the ‘17 season following a run in St. Louis that saw him compile a 72-47 record. Lynn carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before finishing with one run allowed on three hits over seven innings and 104 pitches. Ultimately, it became a big game for the right-hander.
“I’m not going to lie to you: That win was probably the most satisfying I’ve ever had in my career, not counting the playoffs,” Lynn said. “I enjoyed it quite a bit, beating them. It’s one of the teams I [did] not have a Major League win against, and now I do, and I definitely enjoy it.
“Prove it, hatefulness, a little bit of everything,” added Lynn of the emotion behind his effort.
The Cardinals (26-21) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the sixth on a Tommy Edman walk, stolen base, advancement to third on a fly out and hard-hit ball from Paul Goldschmidt that went past Tim Anderson with the infield drawn in for St. Louis’ first hit. But in mixing the four-seamer, slider, curve and changeup, along with a little bit of mound attitude, Lynn (5-1) gave the White Sox a chance to come back, having allowed two runs or less for the seventh time in eight starts.
“I’ve always been [a jerk],” said Lynn of his demonstrative body language. “It’s all about making sure you maintain, figuring out what you’re good at, figuring out how to make that stay at a top level and then kind of adding things as you go.”
“It’s actually unbelievable watching him go out [and pitch]. It’s so impressive,” said White Sox left fielder Andrew Vaughn of Lynn. “He’s a guy that just grips it and rips it, and he just goes after guys. It’s so — I don’t even know how to explain it — it’s like a bulldog. He just gets in there and he fights his way, no matter what. No matter what he’s got going, he just competes.”
Vaughn is developing a flair for the dramatic to match his power stroke. The rookie left fielder launched a two-out, two-run home run off St. Louis starter Kwang Hyun Kim in the sixth inning, erasing that one-run deficit. Vaughn homered off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of an eventual Sunday loss, tying the game at the time.
Anderson, who was mired in a 2-for-21 slump over his last five games, added a two-run double down the right-field line off reliever Daniel Ponce de Leon, as the White Sox scored four in the sixth and ended their first three-game losing streak of the season. But it was Vaughn who once again started things at a crucial moment.
“You’ve got to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Vaughn said. “This is the top stage, the best pitchers against the best hitters. You’ve just got to go in there and put your best swing on their best pitch and see who comes out on top. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. It was a 2-0 count and I got a changeup kind of in the bottom of the zone. I was able to stay through it and put a good swing on it.”
“In Andrew’s case, Kim didn’t make many pitches that were there, but Andrew got on him,” La Russa said. “Even the pitch he hit out of the park, that wasn’t a cookie down the middle. He had to go down and get it. Andrew is stepping up big time, exactly when we need him.”
Monday’s victory maintained a 1 1/2-game lead for the White Sox over the Indians in the American League Central, with the Indians topping the Tigers. But it’s far too early for scoreboard watching.
Instead, take a look at Lynn’s consistency and mound presence and what it has meant to this team.
“When you’re growing up, when you’re coming up in the game, it’s, ‘Oh, he’s got a bad attitude, this and that,’” Lynn said. “And when you get older and start pitching better, it’s, ‘He’s a bulldog.’ So just be a bulldog, I guess.”