Are we sure this is the same James McCann who played for the Detroit Tigers the past five seasons?
The same James McCann that was below average defensively and wasn’t good at pitch framing. At the plate, he was a career .240/.288/.366 hitter with a 58 wRC+ last year. That guy, right?
Because this James McCann that’s playing for the White Sox this season doesn’t play like the one who did with Detroit — making key defensive plays, stealing strikes on pitches located on the margins, and becoming one of the more dependable bats in the lineup. This catcher looks like an All-Star.
Today was just another excellent game for McCann, who had a four-hit day with two doubles and made two heads up plays in the field to help bail out the pitchers as the White Sox beat the Blue Jays, 7-2.
First heads up play came in the sixth inning. After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walked to leadoff the inning, Justin Smoak hit a hard groundball into the infield shift. It was an awkward play as it played between Tim Anderson and Yolmer Sanchez, with the later fielding the grounder to throw out Smoak at first base for the fielder’s choice. However, with the shift on Yoan Moncada had to cover second in case of a double play opportunity which left third base briefly open. Guerrero decided to take his chance at gaining an extra base when Abreu found McCann hustling from his catcher’s spot in time to cover third. Even in full gear, McCann was able to run Guerrero back to second and tossed it to Sanchez for the secure tag. A unique 4-3-2-4 double play.
Just your everyday, casual, run-of-the-mill, 4-3-2-4 double play.pic.twitter.com/5b5ALVEfL9
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox)May 11, 2019
The second heads up play came in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on first and second with two outs, Rowdy Tellez hit a pop up straight up the elevators shaft. As Tellez looked around for the ball in the Rogers Centre white roof, he got in the way of McCann trying to make a play on the ball. Ultimately, Abreu came rushing in but didn’t make the catch, but the umpires ruled it interference on Tellez as McCann ran into him. Instead of an embarrassing error, the White Sox were able to escape that inning with no damage done.
It was a tight ball game until the seventh inning. The White Sox were first to strike in the third inning against Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman as Yolmer Sanchez hit his first home run of the season, and later in the inning, Moncada singled to center to drive in Leury Garcia making it 2-0.
In the seventh inning, McCann and Charlie Tilson, who is also playing out of his mind since called up from Charlotte, hit back-to-back singles. Tim Anderson hit a sharp line drive to right field that Billy McKinney was just able to catch saving a run-scoring double. Nicky Delmonico was able to get the job done as he hit an RBI single to center off Stroman to plate McCann making it 3-0.
Reliever Derek Law would replace Stroman, and on a 0-1 pitch, Sanchez attempted a safety squeeze. It was a decent bunt up the first base side making it tough for Law to field and throw out Tilson at home, but Law had trouble just fielding the bunt. That error allowed Sanchez to reach first and the Sox were up 4-0.
Randal Grichuk hit his second home in as many days to make it 4-1, but the Sox extended the lead with two more runs in the eighth thanks again to McCann and Tilson. Yonder Alonso walked to lead it off and was pinch run for Jose Rondon. McCann would follow with his first double of the day to right field to put runners on second and third. Tilson would follow with a double of his own to right field pushing the Sox ahead 6-1.
McCann’s second double was the ground-rule type to right field in the ninth inning plating Moncada. McCann already has eight doubles in 2019 in 23 games when he just had 16 in 118 games last year.
Ivan Nova pitched well making it two good starts in-a-row. Reached the seventh inning but didn’t record an out leaving him with a final line of 6 IP 5 H 1 ER 3 BB 3 K lowering his season ERA to 6.29. Evan Marshall, Kelvin Herrera, and Alex Colome carried it the rest of the way allowing just one run on three hits over the last three innings.
- Charlie Tilson is hitting .381 with an OPS of .911, and three stolen bases since called up from Charlotte.
- Yoan Moncada was 1-for-3 with an RBI and two walks keeping his season OPS at a pleasant .849.
- Jose Abreu didn’t have a fun day at the plate as he went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.