White Sox 9, Royals 3: Lone lefty loss avenged
A month ago, the Kansas City Royals became the first time since 2019 to start a lefty against the White Sox and come away with the win.
They tried that strategy twice this weekend, and allowed nine runs both times. Daniel Lynch was the victim on Saturday, and Mike Minor suffered a less sudden loss today. Minor threw five decent innings against the Sox last time out, suppressing the Sox with runners in scoring position well enough to keep the Royals within striking distance, and they won in 10 innings.
Today, Minor couldn’t stop the Royals from being swept. The White Sox struck for three runs in the second and two more in the third, and had answers for every Royals run afterward. The Sox are now 21-1 against left-handed starters since the 2020 season, and this win dragged the Royals below .500. Kansas City’s seventh straight loss means they’re now 16-17.
The Sox offense had enough going for it to make another pedestrian start by Lucas Giolito an afterthought. Giolito became the first Sox starter to allow a run since … Giolito in his last start, and he did so immediately. Whit Merrifield doubled on the first pitch, moved to third on an Andrew Benintendi single, then scored on a Sal Perez double play.
That lead didn’t even survive an inning. Minor plunked José Abreu on an 0-2 pitch to start the second, and Abreu came around to score on Yermín Mercedes’ first career triple. It was a lofted drive to the right-center gap that hung up there long enough that a catch seemed within the realm of the possibility, but Abreu either got a great read or thought there were two outs, because he made up his mind early and scored with ease.
An Andrew Vaughn walk put another rally in the hands of Leury García, but García fared well enough with a sac fly to center. Michael A. Taylor sailed the throw home and allowed Vaughn to take second, and those 90 feet mattered when Danny Mendick shot a two-out single just inside first base to make it a 3-1 game.
Mercedes then tacked on two more RBIs an inning later. Moncada reached on a one-out single, Grandal extended the inning with a walk two batters later, and Mercedes scored them both with a double to left field. Credit Joe McEwing with an aggressive send on Grandal, who would’ve been out by 10 feet with a clean relay. With two outs, though, it was worth forcing the Royals to be clean, and instead the throw gave Perez a hop he couldn’t handle.
The 5-1 lead was enough for Giolito and three White Sox relievers, even if a few guys weren’t at the tops of their games. Giolito only recorded two strikeouts, with the Royals fouling off three times as many pitches (28) as they fanned on (9). Giolito only got five whiffs on his fastball-changeup combo, while giving up nine batted balls hit harder than 95 mph.
By and large, that contact found gloves. He allowed just five hits and two walks over six innings, with Tony La Russa ending his day after five innings and 93 pitches.
Evan Marshall and Codi Heuer courted trouble in the sixth when they loaded the bases on walks with one out for no good reason. A Moncada diving stab turned what could’ve been a two-run single into a fielder’s choice that truncated the rally, and the Sox only lost one run of their 6-1 lead.
Whatever mild tensions that arose were erased in the top of the seventh. Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal led off with a singles, and both scored on an Abreu double two batters later for an 8-2 lead. And when Nicky Lopez opened the bottom of the seventh with a triple off Heuer and scored on Merrifield’s sac fly, Abreu delivered another RBI double in the ninth to restore the six-run cushion.
The White Sox went 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position in this start against Minor and Co. after scuffling to a 1-for-15 performance their first time facing him, and that doesn’t count multiple hits that scored runners from first. If the Sox are going to be trailing the league in homers, that’s the second quickest way to score.
*Grandal was the only regular to go hitless, but he did walk and score.
*Aaron Bummer retired all five he faced, three by strikeout. He’s Tony La Russa’s best bet in the bullpen right now.
*Andrew Vaughn laid out for a diving catch that was partly necessary due to a generous route, but a play made is a play made.
Record: 19-13 | Box score | Statcast
Vaughn and Mendick have been so boring!
Vaughn should stay in left field after Eloy gets back. He is not great with routes now but seems to be learning. He seems much sturdier in the field than Eloy. Vaughn is less flailing arms and legs than Eloy, and I think much less likely to get hurt. I think with reps he can become adequate, which is more than you can say for Eloy in 1 1/2 years. Vaughn’s arm is decent enough too.
I was just thinking about what is going to happen when Jimenez comes back. Someone is gonna be the odd man out between Mercedes and Vaughn. Obviously it’ll depend on how both are playing at the end of the year but there’s 3 guys for 2 positions. If someone is relegated to a bench bat role, I’d assume Mercedes would be better for that over Vaughn.
If Vaughn and Mercedes are hitting, RF could be part of the mix. Let’s hope we have too many good players and too few lineup spots.
Vaughn has the arm for right field, and hasn’t shown poorly in left at all so….how much fun would a robert go get everything outfield of Jiminez, Robert, Vaughn be… could still utilize Engel and Eaton as defensive replacements late, and spot start them vs tough righties.
I’ll bu surprised if we see Robert this year. It could be Engel who has to cover between Eloy and Vaughn.
Anyone else a little concerned about Giolito? They touched on the dip in fastball velocity this season but the command hasn’t been there these last few outings and the changeup velocity appears to be a higher this season. He’s still pitching good but he seems to be getting squared up a lot more than the last two years.