White Sox 6, Royals 5: A share of first place the hard way

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The two biggest plays of this game involved Yasmani Grandal standing at the plate with no particular urgency.

In the bottom of the eighth, a throw from the seat of José Abreu’s pants ended up skipping between Grandal’s legs and to the backstop because Grandal wasn’t looking. Not only did the tying run come home to score, but the potential go-ahead run advanced to third with one out.

In the ninth, Grandal ended the inning as soon as he started it, launching an Ian Kennedy meatball deep into the Goose Island for a walk-off homer. The bat drop signaled that he got all of it, the hesitation might’ve been making sure it stayed fair.

At any rate, the White Sox are now 9-0 against left-handed starters in 2020, but they had to work for this one. The White Sox lost three different leads in a three-hour, 59-minute affair that wasted the purpose of moving the game up an hour.

The last lost lead could’ve have stung for days. Alex Colomé, starting the ninth after recording the last out of the eighth, opened by retiring Jorge Soler on a lineout. But then he walked Ryan O’Hearn on five pitches, and hung a cutter to Maikel Franco, who roped a liner to left center.

Luis Robert hustled and cut it off in the alley, rushing a throw back into Tim Anderson. Anderson fired back to first to get Franco in a rundown as pinch-runner Bubba Starling hung off third, waiting for an opportunity.

Many mistakes were made. First of all, Abreu ran Franco all the way to second instead of getting rid of the ball to the base ahead. He then whiffed — or didn’t get a material piece of Franco — so when Franco was ruled safe, replay couldn’t overturn it.

Abreu was heads-up enough to get rid of the ball toward home plate to keep Starling from advancing. Grandal’s head was elsewhere. After the game, he told Jason Benetti and Steve Stone that he was looking at the dugout and umpire to see if they planned to call for the review. By the time he picked up the location of the ball, it was behind him.

You know what wasn’t behind him? Colomé. The pitcher was entranced by the randomness and was not backing up the plate, and so when the throw scooted to the backstop, Starling could jog home to tie the game. That’s three different culpable parties on one play. For extra insult, Franco made it to third.

Fortunately, Colomé refocused and got Alex Gordon to pop out, and the locked up Adalberto Mondesi to give Grandal his shot at redemption.

It was a laborious end for a game that took the scenic route.

Rick Renteria tried to use Reynaldo López as a regular starter instead of the front half of a tandem, and López only rewarded him with four innings. I’m guessing the plan was Codi Heuer for one, Matt Foster for two, Evan Marshall for one, and then Colomé to close it.

Unfortunately, the plan went off the rails when Foster had his first rough outing as a big-league reliever. He wended his way through an unusually eventful sixth, stranding a leadoff single thanks to Abreu’s first throw from an unorthodox position. Mondesi had popped up a bunt in the triangle between the mound, first baseman and second baseman, and while Abreu couldn’t snag it with a diving attempt, he had enough awareness to recover for the out at second.

Foster finished the sixth without a strikeout, and the Royals were similarly onto him in the seventh. He walked Hunter Dozier with one out, then threw an 0-2 fastball on the outside corner to Soler. The problem was that it was thigh-high, and Soler shot a line drive over the right field wall for a two-run shot that tied the game at 4.

Marshall had to finish Foster’s seventh, and although Jimmy Cordero started the eighth, Renteria felt like Colomé was a better candidate to retire Dozier to end the inning. Colomé got the job done with a first-pitch flyout. The rest was more difficult.

Nevertheless, the White Sox were able to grab a third of first place, as they advanced to the same 20-12 record owned by the Indians and Twins.

The home run once again loomed large. Luis Robert put the Sox on the board with a solo homer in the second inning, and a majestic shrubbery shot by Eloy Jiménez in the fifth gave the Sox a 3-2 lead. Grandal, of course, closed out the game with a walk-off.

As for the two runs in between, the White Sox ground them out of the Royals’ staff. Duffy retired the first two batters of the sixth, but Yoán Moncada kept the inning alive with a single. In came Jesse Hahn, and he stayed in for a while. Robert won a 10-pitch battle by muscling a sinker into left field, and while Danny Mendick struck out, he did so on a cross-up. A fastball clipped off the mitt and Cam Gallagher and rattled around the backstop, allowing Mendick to reach without a throw.

Renteria then went to the bench to lift Adam Engel for Nomar Mazara for the matchup advantage. Mazara hasn’t impressed with his contact, but he’s had a knack for working lengthy at-bats (partially because he isn’t making great contact). It worked in the favor of the White Sox, as Mazara fell behind 0-2 before drawing a walk on the ninth pitch to give the Sox a 4-2 lead.

After the Royals tied it at 4 in the top of the seventh, the White Sox once again answered with a lengthy sequence. Jiménez, Grandal and Edwin Encarnación loaded the bases with a walk, single and walk over the first four batters. Up came Moncada, who had his own marathon session with Scott Barlow, and won it by lining the ninth pitch of their tussle into right field to put the Sox ahead. Alas, Robert lined out to short for the second out, and Mendick’s strikeout actually ended the inning this time.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox made the Royals throw 173 pitches, and the Royals made the White Sox throw 168.

*Grandal completed a SHOTHO with López on the mound to short-circuit a potential rally in the fourth inning. Mendick made a nice pick on the short-hopped throw.

*Jarrod Dyson made his White Sox debut as a defensive replacement for Jiménez in the ninth inning. Unfortunately, the rundown didn’t require his services.

Record: 20-12 | Box score | Statcast

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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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How well are things going when you can’t even give a game away?


That was one of those old “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit” games from years back, where we kept trying to give it away, but we kept coming back to grab the lead.


We didn’t deserve to win that game, but I’ll take it.

As soon as Grandal made that stupid play in the ninth, I thought to myself that the only way he can make up for it was to hit a walk-off homer in the bottom half of the inning. Thank god he did.

There were a lot of good at-bats in this game, by both teams. This would have been a real tough one to lose.


When was the last time the Sox were in first place?

That’s so weird to type. Happy Days.

Trooper Galactus

If this is what qualifies as bad things happening with this team, I’ll take it.


I’m not so sure Colomé deserves the criticism. I can’t be sure what he was thinking, but I suspect he was moving towards 1B when Abreu got the ball to be involved in a potential rundown. It was pretty clear once Robert cut the ball off there wasn’t going to be a play at the plate.


I agree. Other than his shirt selections, I can’t remember disagreeing with Stone in the booth (and now Jim). There was a lot of bad to go around that play, but there shouldn’t have been a throw to the plate and with another runner on, Colome had to go to first base when Abreu vacated it. Jim’s spot on that Abreu has to get rid of that ball much sooner to run him back to first and give Mendick a better throwing angle to home if the runner on third breaks to plate. Glad it didn’t matter. Let’s stay hot!


9-0 against lefties is pretty incredible.

Too bad the Twins and Indians have about 1 lefty starter between the two of them.


We are interested in Lance Lynn according to Morosi


What would it take to get Lynn? Signed for a very affordable 2021. Still good numbers. Giolito, Lynn, Keuchel, and Cease would be a pretty credible front 4 in the playoffs and next year.

LuBob DuRob

Vaughn and Thompson? I just hope Kelley is not part of any package they put together.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling getting Lynn might cost us Cease.

LuBob DuRob

I just don’t see the Sox subtracting from the ML roster like that.

lil jimmy

McCann would be logical in a three way trade. He goes to a team in the hunt who needs a starting catcher. They trade a prospect to a team who is out of it . That Team sends a Starting pitcher to the Sox.


Assuming it would cost Vaughn or Madrigal. I think I’d give up Madrigal, but not so sure about Vaughn.

It would be so great if something like Dunning, Stiever, Collins would get it done.