White Sox 3, Royals 2: Deep bullpen pays dividends

White Sox win

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it … well, maybe twice: Adam Engel’s bat is all the offense you need.

Engel’s three-run homer off Royals rookie Kris Bubic way back in the second inning held up over a rather quiet final seven, thanks to a decent start by Dallas Keuchel and better work by the White Sox bullpen, which hasn’t been scored upon since the opening series.

Keuchel is 2-0 in his young White Sox career, and he can thank the relievers behind him for holding the line. He lasted just 5⅓ innings, partially due to subpar command, and partially due to a couple misplays from Tim Anderson that elevated his pitch count to 92 by the time Rick Renteria lifted him.

Keuchel had used up his cushion to start the sixth by giving up a homer to Ryan McBroom that cut the White Sox’s lead to 3-2. He stayed in to retire Alex Gordon, but when the righties came up, Renteria’s righties came out. Jimmy Cordero got a groundout and a strikeout to end the sixth, then pitched around a weak single and catcher interference with two outs by striking out Maikel Franco (more on him later).

Evan Marshall made easy work of the eighth. That left the ninth for Colomé, and after Jose Abreu smothered a grounder behind first base to prevent a leadoff double after a lengthy battle with Ryan O’Hearn, Colomé handled the rest himself. He barehanded a Whit Merrifield bunt for the second out, and struck out Adalberto Mondesi to end the game for his first save.

The White Sox bullpen has now pitched 16⅔ scoreless innings on this road trip. Tonight’s effort preserved Keuchel’s win, and it also sealed Bubic’s loss.

Bubic hadn’t pitched above A-ball before tonight, but he was pressed into action due to all sorts of calamity in Kansas City’s rotation. He fared decently, unless you ask James McCann, who was beaned his first time up and drilled on the wrist his second time up. KC pitchers missed high and tight quite a bit, but McCann was the only one to take the brunt of it, and he slammed his bat in frustration after the second one.

Engel avenged him. After a 2-2 pitch knocked off McCann’s helmet to put runners on first and second, Engel put a 2-2 changeup just over the wall in left for a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

The rout was not on, though. In fact, the White Sox only tallied four hits on the night, and only one of them after the second. The Kansas City bullpen turned out to be just as stout, pitching five scoreless innings in relief of Bubic.

The White Sox did have one chance, and that’s after Nick Madrigal reached base for the first time in his MLB career on a Mondesi error in the seventh. He advanced to second on the play, then tried to score when Leury García shot a single through the left side.

Nick Capra sent him on Gordon’s arm, and that tends to be a mistake. Sure enough, Madrigal got tagged out at home for the inning’s second out, and while García eventually replaced him at third by advancing on the throw home and moving up on a wild pitch, Yoán Moncada popped out to end the inning.

Madrigal went 0-for-3 in his debut, grounding out all three times. But he did make easy work of all his chances at second base, which is going to be needed during future Keuchel starts.

Bullet points:

*Anderson left the game with right hip soreness, which he might have aggravated by getting his spikes caught while ranging on a ball behind second base. That was called a hit, but it was the second of two makeable plays he couldn’t handle cleanly.

*Luis Robert experienced hitlessness for the first time, but he did beat out a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play grounder by an incredible amount in the second inning, which eventually paid off when Engel homered.

*Catcher interference, a scourge in this season, made its way into the box score for the second straight game. This time, James McCann stuck hit mitt in the way of Jorge Soler’s checked swing to put two on for Franco. Cordero pitched around it.

(Note: It’s showing up as a HBP in the box score because Cordero’s pitch missed inside, but a replay showed Soler’s bat hitting McCann’s mitt. Let’s see if this is corrected.)

*Franco, by the way, went 0-for-4 with seven stranded.

*Tripp Gibson’s strike zone was all over the place, and I’m wondering if umpires are suffering as much as pitchers from the irregular preseason.

Record: 3-4 | Box score | Statcast

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If “unpire” was intentional, well done.
If not, still well done.


Does Aaron Bummer move into the closer role at some point? Or does he just fill the role of “high leverage guy?” Are the White Sox forward thinking enough to refrain from restricting their bullpen arms to predefined innings?


I don’t blame Keuchel for going “just” 5.1 innings. I mean, we’ve had the starter go more than five innings three times, and he’s done it twice. I wish Cease, Lopez and Rodon had gone that long in their starts. Plus, Keuchel probably would have gone at least 6 innings in this one if not for the misplays by Anderson.


Abreu has already made a handful of impressive plays this year. His dWAR is in the negative and he’ll never have the best range, but I think he’s been about as good as he can be in the field so far.


Evan Marshall is going to end up being the greatest free agent signing of Rick Hahn’s career. Weird.

As Cirensica

McCann a close second. Keuchel is not looking bad either.


Well, they got lucky (so far) with Marshall. He was granted free agency, yes, but it was basically a “you-want-him-you-can-have-him” move.

Blind squirrel. Broken clock right twice. Evan Marshall.


Between their shabby strike zones and stubborn insistence on breathing, these umps aren’t doing much to stave off the robots.


The calling of balls and strikes has been terrible this season. Inconsistent from one batter to the next, from one pitch to the next.


I thought it was a terrible send by Capra. We would have had first and third with one out and Moncada and Abreu coming up. I like being aggressive, but this wasn’t the time.


Not only did we have our big guns coming up, but Capra has to realize who was playing left field. Defensively, Gordon might be the best at that position in MLB.


It was striking the degree to which Robert beat that double play attempt.

Normally on a play like that a guy has his foot on the bag as the first baseman receives the ball.

Robert is so fast he was already past the bag when the Royals first baseman caught the ball, it want even close. I was shocked when I watched it.


Bullpen has been amazing and other then Colome, sox control a lot of these guys for multiple years which is nice.

TA7 has been a butcher at SS, didnt think he was gonna be an all bat player, but he needs to get it together a playoff level team cant have that kind of defensive play at SS and positions are filling up fast on where else they could move him.

That felt like a must win and the boys got it done, the hunt for 500 continues tonight, lets go!!!

LuBob DuRob

He needs to get to the spot and plant ahead of the ball when he can. He seems like he tries to time it in way that creates this fluid motion, but it complicates things – feet still moving when receiving the ball. Madrigal’s feet should be a good example.