White Sox 7, Royals 1: Escaping Jams and Hitting Bombs

After the Arizona Diamondbacks beat him up, Johnny Cueto was looking to bounce back into form. In two starts against Kansas City, Cueto lasted at least six innings and didn’t allow more than three runs. Yet, the White Sox would find ways to stumble late into either an extra-innings win on May 16 or a blowout on August 10. Both of those games were at Kauffman Stadium, so maybe things would be normal for Cueto pitching at home. 

Cueto didn’t get through six innings but avoided big innings created by the outfield defense thanks to stellar infield defense. Andrew Vaughn and AJ Pollock provided the power as the White Sox won 7-1. 

Kansas City struck first in the third inning when Drew Waters and Nicky Lopez hit back-to-back singles. Melendez’s single was a line drive to right field, but Gavin Sheets didn’t make a great read and followed it up with fumbling the bounce. That mishap allowed Waters to reach third base. MJ Melendez grounded to Romy Gonzalez at second base, but the White Sox couldn’t turn the double play in time as Waters scored. The RBI fielder’s choice put Kansas City ahead 1-0. 

In the bottom half, the White Sox offense countered. Leury Garcia’s blooper reached the outfield grass for a single and would advance to second base on a wild pitch. Elvis Andrus would also hit a shallow flare that just got over the leaping Royals second baseman Michael Massey. If Massey were an inch taller, he perhaps makes a terrific catch that doubles up Garcia at second base. Instead, Garcia scored, and Andrus’ RBI single tied the game. 

On the next pitch, Andrew Vaughn smashed a two-run shot pulling Daniel Mengden’s cutter to deep left field. His 15th home run of 2022 gives him the team lead. 

There were multiple opportunities for Kansas City to retake the lead. Cueto stranded Massey at second base in the fourth inning by punching out Brent Rooker. Things got dicey in the next frame. Waters lined a double down the right field line but got caught at third base thanks to a great play by Andrus. On a ground ball hit by Lopez, Andrus made a solid throw to Leury Garcia covering third base to tag out Waters. 

After that good defensive play, the White Sox outfield made another mess. Melendez singled to center field that AJ Pollock took his time to field. That was a risky decision as Lopez was racing around third base and possibly flirting with heading home. Pollock tried to hurry his throw back to the infield, but it didn’t hit the cut-off man and was wildly off target. That allowed Melendez to reach second base quickly, and suddenly Cueto was in a jam. 

Luckily for Cueto, Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez lined out directly to Romy Gonzalez and Leury Garcia, ending the threat. Cueto’s final line was 5.1 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K on 94 pitches. It could have been a worse afternoon for Cueto. Still, he manages and pitches out over defensive miscues this season. 

The game got out of hand late, with Garica and Gonzalez hitting RBI singles in the sixth inning. Now a 5-1 game into the eighth inning, Pollock made up for his defense by going oppo-taco for his 10th home run of the season. 

Game Notes

  • White Sox committed three errors, pushing their season total to 82 which leads the American League. 
  • White Sox now have five players with double-digit home runs: Andrew Vaughn, Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Gavin Sheets, and AJ Pollock. 
  • Jose Abreu hit his 30th double of the season. 

Record: 65-66 | Box Score | StatCast

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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soxygen

Since you (almost) posed the question, I guess I feel better about the 5 guys in double digits with HRs than I do about leading the league in errors.

a-t

This is what was supposed to be happening most of the season.

Augusto Barojas

Ok I know it’s only 3 games. But, would it really be surprising if they started playing just a little bit better, with more sensible lineups, and a much younger person with enormously more energy and vitality in the dugout? Those things were not exaggerated by the fans, they actually matter.

I don’t think they can put together a run like the Phillies or Jays did after their manager change. But all else equal, this team is better than a week ago, beyond any doubt.

a-t

If they’re still alive in two weeks, Tim coming back could be a real spark

soxygen

Listen to you and your unfounded optimism -you’re a soxaholic. It may be time for an intervention!

dat gummit

hopelessly addicted to soxahol

Augusto Barojas

Yeah, I mean I don’t think it justifies real optimism, certainly not for this year. It doesn’t fix the defense, hitting vs RHP or their other shortcomings that Tony had nothing to do with.

I do think it will make them less lethargic, enough to be visible and obvious that it is a positive change. Addition by subtraction, really. But the Sox are still mediocre and irrelevant until they fix the problems they’ve ignored the past two winters.

a-t

extreme SSS but far I think Cairo has visibly better pitcher/bullpen management tendencies. also who knows maybe he’s somehow fixed the power problem too lmao

jorgefabregas

La Russa has a .513 winning percentage managing the White Sox.
Cairo has a .600 winning percentage managing the White Sox. The choice is clear!

Yolmer's gatorade

So far, they are just hitting more. But the 2016 start factoid shows that it’s not impossible or particularly improbable for the Sox to get to 88 wins and get in. 12% playoff odds are bad, but it does happen fairly often. It’s comparable to beating pocket aces heads up pre-flop with a suited connector in Texas Hold ’em.

Last edited 3 months ago by Yolmer's gatorade
Augusto Barojas

I would say that 88 wins, which would mean 23-8 in their remaining games, is particularly improbable. For a team under .500 on Sept 1 to play 15 games over in a month? No!

soxygen

I think the odds are better that 4 guys need to go on the IL than that we win 88 games

roke1960

I don’t think the Twins or Guardians are getting to 88 wins. That’s 14 over- neither have been more than 10 over all year. I would think 85-86 wins would do it- and the Sox need to go 6-3 vs the Twins and 3-1 vs Cleveland or it won’t matter.

Yolmer's gatorade

My point is that it’s unlikely they win the division, but it wouldn’t be a real aberration. It’s possible. If you live to be 80, by the law of averages you’ll see a 1:10 event 8 times in your life.

Last edited 3 months ago by Yolmer's gatorade
HallofFrank

Aren’t you guys ready for the most 2022 White Sox ending to this season? They sweep the Twins this weekend, pick up two more games on CLE, then Tony comes back and they’re mathematically eliminated before the Padres series.