With Alex Colomé throwing way too many pitches over the last two days, Dallas Keuchel’s easy, umpire-aided Sunday afternoon appeared to be just what the doctor ordered.
The doctor instead ordered lower back stiffness because it’s better for business.
Despite only throwing 49 pitches over five shutout innings, Keuchel couldn’t pitch into the sixth, departing during his warmups after the Sox extended their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth.
This could have been another arm-jeopardizing nailbiter, but a couple of three-spots in the late innings off Kansas City bullpen allowed Rick Renteria to coast to the finish with Alex McRae of all people. The White Sox now head to Pittsburgh with two off days surrounding a two-game series to sort things out.
Keuchel was a marvel of efficiency, even if the events around him weren’t. He threw 36 of his 49 pitches for strikes and allowed just a double and a single. The single probably would have been a Danny Mendick error, as he failed to glove a sinking liner, then compounded issues by firing an ill-advised throw into the KC dugout.
Generous scoring or not, he came away from both hits unscathed because of fortuitous calls elsewhere.
In the third, Adalberto Mondesi reached on a bloop double, but was thrown out at the plate by Mendick on a contact play. Home plate umpire Ryan Blakney called him out and it withstood a challenge, but had Blakney called him out, that call would have stood as well.
The Royals lost their challenge, and that became magnified the following inning, when Hunter Dozier started the inning with the aforementioned sinking liner that Mendick misplayed. He moved to third on a one-out flyout, then tried coming home on another grounder up the middle. Mendick ranged to his right and fired across his body to José Abreu, whose skeleton almost burst out of his skin trying to meet Mendick’s throw before Bubba Starling touched first.
Did Starling beat the throw? Probably. But it didn’t matter because Shane Livensparger called him out, and the Royals had no challenges left.
The Royals didn’t end up scoring until the sixth, when Jimmy Cordero — the emergency pitcher after Keuchel’s injury, because of course — gave up a leadoff single to start his second inning, and then Steve Cishek gave up a rocket two-run shot to Edward Olivares.
Fortunately the White Sox led 5-0 at the time, and they tacked on three more runs afterward to reduce the risk.
The White Sox had another strong day up and down the lineup against a Johnny Wholestaff approach led by Matt Harvey. Every starter reached base, and Tim Anderson and Eloy Jiménez were the only ones who failed to reach more than once. Edwin Encarnación crushed a hanging Josh Staumont slider into the fountains for a three-run homer in the seventh, but they wouldn’t have needed the long ball, because they applied pressure elsewhere. They outhit Kansas City 13-8, they outwalked the Royals 6-0, and Luis Robert even reached on his first career HBP. Throw in a 6-for-17 performance with runners in scoring position and three steals in three attempts on the basepaths, and there are no complaints about the offense.
Encarnación stands out for driving in half of the White Sox’s runs, as he added an RBI single on a double-hit grounder up the middle. But Yolmer Sánchez had a big day at the bottom of the order, doubling twice, walking twice and scoring twice, and Yasmani Grandal showed his value as well. He drove home the game’s first run with a single in the third, started the three-run rally with a walk off Staumont in the seventh, then scored Sánchez with a double in the eighth for some big production out of the No. 2 spot.
The White Sox are done with the Royals, and after going 9-1, they probably wish they weren’t.
*Anderson committed his fifth error of the season on a rather routine grounder, but it didn’t even cost Keuchel a pitch, because his next offering resulted in a 6-4-3 double play.
*Anderson stole his fifth base, but Robert retook the lead with a pair of steals. He was originally called out on his second attempt, but the White Sox had replay on their side all weekend.
*The Indians won to remain a half-game back, but the Twins lost to Detroit to fall 1½ out.
Record: 26-15 | Box score | Statcast
Terrible week for Hall of Famers. Lou Brock, who briefly partnered with Harry Caray on White Sox telecasts in 1981, has died.
The Sox now have the 3rd best record in all of baseball, behind only the Dodgers and the Rays.
I noticed that too. This offense is, and will hopefully continue to.be, special. Worried a bit about pitching, but I did enjoy the earlier knowledge about RH bullpen’s success against lefties.
Not playing the East and West makes it harder to get a relative strength read on the Central teams
Apropos of nothing, with no baseball on the Southside tonight, some Rangel Ravelo and Josh Osich sightings at 1060 W. Addison.
Just can’t wash that Cubs stink off of Cishek
Joe Maddon killed the dude. RIP Cishek.
Rick better floor the gas pedal in the upcoming two series versus the Tigers and Pie-rats because it’s a bunch of difficult series one after the other all the way to the end.
Difficult series for the Twins, Reds, Indians and Cubs.