In his last start of the season, Erik Johnson made another strong case for a rotation spot in 2016.
Outside of one mistake, the right-hander picked apart the Tigers lineup over 6 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs in the White Sox 4-3 win on Saturday in front of 17,772 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Sox got going early when Adam Eaton tallied a leadoff single and a stolen base off starter Justin Verlander in the first inning. Melky Cabrera knocked a double to right two batters later to drive in Eaton, who picked up his 98th run of the season.
Johnson did a nice job of scattering four hits over his 6 1/3 innings of work. His biggest mistake, however, came in the sixth inning when Miguel Cabrera got ahold of a pitch and hit it just out of the reach of Eaton in right center for his 18th home run of the season.
If there has been an issue with Johnson this year in the majors, it’s that he’s been susceptible to the long ball. In his six starts this year, he’s given up eight home runs.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after the win that he's not concerned with Johnson's home run numbers.
"These are big league hitters," Ventura said. "Tonight it was Miguel Cabrera, which he's not the only guy. For him, he battled back right after that. If you give one up to Miggy, I think he falls into a long line."
Alexei Ramirez tied up the game in the bottom of the sixth by dropping a double down the right field line to score Trayce Thompson.
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James McCann, who was Chris Sale’s 270th strikeout victim of the season on Friday, brought in a run with a pinch-hit RBI double in the ninth off of Dan Jennings.
In the bottom of the frame, J.B. Shuck matched McCann's pinch-hit heroics with his own RBI double to drive in Avisail Garcia to tie the game.
Leury Garcia drove in Shuck shortly after with a single to send the South Siders home as walkoff winners.
"It was awesome," Garcia said. "It was fun. I was ready for the opportunity to hit it and put the ball in play and see what happens."
While Ventura didn't name Johnson as a member of the 2016 rotation, he was impressed with how Johnson handled his third stint in the majors.
"He's come back and put himself in the running when we go to spring training," Ventura said. "You see a guy that's worked his way back. He went through had a nice minor league season, has come back up here and been pretty reliable of putting him in there and getting us in position to win a game."
Johnson, who won Most Valuable Pitcher in the International League this year, finished 2015 (3-1, 3.34 ERA over 35 innings) much stronger than he started 2014, where he only lasted five starts before being sent back down. The right-hander picked up his fourth quality start of the year on Saturday and provides the team with some balance in a left-handed dominated staff going forward. Johnson felt like he achieved his goal of getting better every start and made sure management knew that he has plans of hanging out in Chicago permanently.
"For me, it's known that I want to pitch up here," Johnson said. "This is where I want to be. This is where I want to compete."