White Sox 11, Royals 5: Early, late offense allows bullpen to relax

The White Sox won by six runs tonight, and they pounded out 21 hits. Perhaps it’s a testament to rising standards that it felt a little bit unsatisfying.

I feel safe calling it “tenser than necessary” at the very least. The White Sox took a 7-0 lead on Kansas City, but they blew a couple of bases-loaded situations, and with Gio González only lasting 3⅔ innings, it seemed as though the White Sox couldn’t count on coasting to the finish. Sure enough, the Royals made it a save situation with three in the sixth and one in the seventh, but the White Sox made the final score a little more reflective of their offensive supremacy with four in the ninth.

The crooked numbers early and late afforded White Sox pitchers to pick up some firsts in unusual fashion:

  1. Matt Foster picked up his first win in his first game by throwing a scoreless fifth with a seven-run lead.
  2. Codi Heuer picked up his first save with the Sox holding a seven-run lead, because he pitched the eighth with the Sox up three.

Both benefited from huge games up and down the lineup. Luis Robert came through with four hits from the leadoff spot (including a homer), Eloy Jiménez had four hits from the sixth spot (including a homer), and Leury García avenged Tim Anderson’s groin injury with four hits from the seventh spot. Throw in three hits from Yoán Moncada behind Robert, and the Sox had their highest hit total since April of 2019.

The first five innings all had their own storylines:

First inning: With one on and two outs and Ronald Bolaños on the mound, Yasmani Grandal singles Moncada to third, and Edwin Encarnacíon draws a walk to keep the inning alive for Jiménez (Moncada scored on ball four via #WILDPITCHOFFENSE). Jiménez then hits a deep drive to right center that comes up just short of the wall … and then over it, after the ball caromed in and out of Bubba Starling’s mitt. Instead of a 1-0 lead, the White Sox finish the bottom of the first with a Minnesota-like four-spot.

Second inning: Nick Madrigal collected his first strikeout (looking!) before his first hit, but Luis Robert erases any bad vibes with a solo shot and a 5-0 lead.

Third inning: The White Sox load the bases on Kevin McCarthy with nobody out … and walk off the field two pitches later. Adam Engel lines out to short, and Madrigal bounces into a 6-4-3 double play, both on first pitches.

Fourth inning: The White Sox load the bases on Kevin McCarthy and Jake Newberry with one out, but Encarnación and Jiménez both strike out swinging.

When Madrigal bounced into his second double play of the game after the first two batters singled in the fifth inning, the White Sox were begging the Royals to make a game of it. But Robert came through again with an RBI double, and he scored when Moncada hit a skyscraper of a chopper off the plate, and Newberry’s barehanded grab-and-throw attempt bounced past the first baseman.

That allowed the Sox to relax a little, and they needed the breathing room. González was OK in his first start for the White Sox, but he scattered five hits and three walks over 3⅔ innings while throwing 77 pitches. He worked around his own bases-loaded jam in the second, and Jimmy Cordero had to finish another one in the fourth.

After Cordero kept it a seven-run game, Renteria opted for his lesser relievers, and the bullpen’s scoreless streak ended at 18 innings on Jace Fry’s watch. He gave up and RBI double to Ryan O’Hearn and a two-run shot to Whit Merrifield in the sixth, and Aaron Bummer allowed an inherited run to score on Steve Cishek’s tab in the seventh. Heuer pitched a scoreless eighth, and stayed out there after the Sox opened it up in the ninth, recording his first-ever save despite giving up three hits and a run after two outs.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox stranded a ridiculous 15 runners, yet were an acceptable 6-for-19 with runners in scoring position. The Royals are kicking themselves a little more (4-for-14, 12 stranded).

*Grandal picked up his production with a pair of hits, including a two-run double with two outs in the ninth that put the game out of reach.

*The Royals out-errored the Sox 4-0.

*Madrigal went 0-for-5 and created seven outs, although the last two got off the ground.

Record: 4-4 | Box score | Highlights

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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