TORONTO—The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays never got on track after struggling mightily at the start of the season.
The 2018 edition of the team is closing out its first homestand of the year with a much better feeling.
The Jays will hit the road for a nine-game trip starting tomorrow with a confidence-boosting 4-3 record after dropping the finale of a three-game series 4-3 against the Chicago White Sox last night.
A season-opening four-game split against the powerhouse N.Y. Yankees was followed by a series win over the White Sox.
Not a bad way to kick things off for a team that needed 16 games to reach the four-win mark last year.
“I like what I'm seeing," said manager John Gibbons. ”I think we're playing a pretty good brand of baseball.
"We've been swinging the bats.
“If a couple key guys in that lineup get some things going, we're going to be that much better,” he noted.
Jose Abreu's solo homer in the eighth inning off Ryan Tepera (1-1) was the difference as Toronto's four-game win streak came to an end.
Joakim Soria worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save.
Matt Davidson also hit a solo shot for the White Sox (3-2). He took Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez deep in the second inning.
Justin Smoak and Curtis Granderson, two of Toronto's best hitters so far, had two hits apiece.
Smoak scored when Russell Martin hit a slow grounder in the fourth inning but Chicago regained the lead with two runs after an unusual play in the fifth.
With the bases loaded, Granderson jumped against the wall in left field as he tried to catch a rainbow drive off the bat of Yoan Moncada.
His glove appeared to make contact with the ball and he caught it after falling to the ground.
The White Sox challenged the call as replays showed the ball appeared to hit the wall first.
“I knew I caught it on the ground," Granderson said. "I just wasn't sure what it had hit first.”
The out call was overturned and ruled a hit, allowing each runner to advance and giving Chicago a 2-1 lead.
“I went out and there was no way that I could ever tell that the ball was trapped, hit the wall, or anything,” said crew chief and third-base umpire Jerry Layne.
"What I thought happened is that the ball hit the glove, went up, and he was able—it appeared to me—to secure it before it hit the ground.
“I have an out which is now a no-catch," Layne noted. "But we don't know that until the White Sox come out and say they'd like to challenge.”
After the decision, Sanchez hit Avisail Garcia with a pitch to bring home another run.
Abreu grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Toronto pulled even in the sixth on RBI singles by Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales. But Abreu put the White Sox up to stay by turning on a 3-0 pitch for his second homer of the season.
“It's something that I don't really like, the 3-0 hack," Abreu admitted. "But the situation that I got told me to do it.”
Set-up man Nate Jones (1-0) recorded four outs for the victory.
The Jays are idle today before kicking off their road swing tomorrow against the Texas Rangers.
Toronto started last season with a 1-9 mark and finished the month of April with an abysmal 8-17 record.
Granderson is hopeful the Jays can build on their solid start this season during the 11-day trip.
“Our team has pitched well, we've played defence behind them, and we scored runs,” Granderson said.
"We were in every game and had an opportunity to do something with it.
“Those are all the things that you could ask for at this time of the season,” he added.
Elsewhere in the AL, New York beat Tampa Bay 7-2, Houston edged Baltimore 3-2, L.A. nipped Cleveland 3-2 (13 innings), and Oakland downed Texas 6-2.
Kansas City at Detroit was postponed.
Over in the NL, Atlanta dumped Washington 7-1, New York doubled Philadelphia 4-2, Arizona blanked L.A. 3-0, St. Louis whitewashed Milwaukee 6-0, and Colorado beat San Diego 5-2.
Minnesota beat Pittsburgh 7-3 and San Francisco bombed Seattle 10-1 in interleague play.