February 3, 2023

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TA lets bat do the talking, silences Yankee Stadium

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NEW YORK — The boos rained down on Tim Anderson each of the five times he stepped into the batter’s box Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.

After Saturday’s benches-clearing incident between the White Sox and the Yankees, which was sparked by Josh Donaldson twice referring to Anderson as “Jackie” on the field, Anderson made it clear that he took offense to what he characterized as a “disrespectful” exchange. Instead of adding more fuel to the fire during Sunday’s doubleheader, both teams handled the situation on the field.

And Anderson got the last word on the matter.

In the eighth inning of the White Sox 5-0 win in Game 2, the 28-year-old came up to bat with two outs and his team holding a two-run lead. He fouled off the first slider he saw, then took the next one for a ball. But when that third slider hung in the middle of the strike zone, Anderson launched it a Statcast-projected 357 feet to right field for a back-breaking three-run homer.

As Anderson crossed home plate, he brought his pointer finger to his mouth and kept it there, emphasizing the silencing he had just bestowed upon the home crowd in the Bronx.

“This guy is — he’s as good as anybody playing at that position, and one of the best players in baseball,” said manager Tony La Russa. “So he deserves the recognition, and he deserves the respect. When somebody disrespects him, well, he should get upset. I know I would. Point is, when you talk about how special he is, think about the game he had under those circumstances.”

Anderson did not play in the White Sox 3-1 win in Game 1, a decision La Russa said he made to afford the shortstop a break and “save him for the night.” In Game 2, Anderson brought all that extra energy along with him, going 3-for-5 with a pair of singles in addition to the home run.

It was Anderson’s Major League-leading 18th multihit game of the season and his eighth three-hit game, the latter of which put him in a tie with the Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts for the most in the Majors.

Anderson’s fifth homer of the year capped Chicago’s decisive five-run eighth, during which all the scoring occurred with two outs. Andrew Vaughn and Reese McGuire each provided an RBI single, and then Anderson took care of the rest.

“As a teammate, I love the guy,” Vaughn said of Anderson. “People say the good get booed, and I think he’s one of the best. That situation, he took full advantage of it.”

Michael Kopech earned his first victory of the season after flirting with a perfect game until the bottom of the sixth. Though the right-hander’s outing came to an end having tossed seven scoreless innings and allowing only one hit, Anderson and the White Sox offense put him in position to come away with that win.

“I think that speaks hugely to the character of Tim and what we’re trying to be in this clubhouse, and that’s a family,” Kopech said. “Not to speak too much on that, but Tim’s going to show up every day ready to play and lead this team. And he did that again tonight.

“I think that was just one of the cooler things I’ve seen, watching an entire crowd that’s showing low class towards him, booing him, calling him Jackie and all that stuff. And then hitting a home run and putting us right back in a good position to win. Got nothing but respect for him.”

Kopech’s outing was the second strong start for the White Sox on the day, as Johnny Cueto set the tone in the Game 1 victory, tossing six-plus scoreless innings while allowing six hits and striking out five in the second start of his Chicago career. There was late drama in that contest as well, as AJ Pollock answered Aaron Judge’s eighth-inning, game-tying homer with a go-ahead solo shot in the top of the ninth.

With the pair of decisions, the White Sox swept a doubleheader against the Yankees — who boast the best record in baseball at 29-12 — at Yankee Stadium for the first time since July 18, 1995.

“It’s always good to take a series on the road, especially here in the Bronx,” Vaughn said. “… It just kind of shows that we have that in us, and we just got to keep going and keep building off of it.”

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