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After what constitues a plate discipline outburst in Game 1 of today’s doubleheader, the White Sox offense got back to its free-swinging ways. That played into Royals starter Brady Singer‘s hands, who was able to blank the Sox offense over seven innings. A late rally by the Sox fell short, and the sleepy offensive performance wasted what was an impressive major league debut from 25-year-old righty Davis Martin, whom the White Sox called up from Triple-A Charlotte to start the game.
There was a lot to like about what Martin brought to the table. Though he couldn’t hear it, it seemed Martin was following Lance Lynn‘s attack-and-don’t-nibble mantra that the latter laid out in a guest TV booth appearance in the second inning. Martin showed no fear and pounded the zone relentlessly, throwing his fourseam, changeup, and slider for strikes. In fact, he threw a first-pitch strike to each of the first 17 hitters he faced before falling behind Nicky Lopez 1-0 to lead off the fifth inning. Initially, putting away hitters was a challenge, and the Royals made some loud contact for outs, but Martin got tougher as the game went on, and the strikeouts piled up in his last three innings. His final line was a very strong 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP, with 64 of 91 pitches for strikes.
That said, the Sox’ bats left no margin for error, so what little damage the Royals mustered loomed large. Emmanuel Rivera and Michael A. Taylor each hit ringing doubles to opposite corners of the ballpark in the second inning to score the lone run against Martin. Then, Tanner Banks relieved Martin in the sixth and failed to get through the inning unscathed. He had the platoon advantage against lefty catcher MJ Melendez (who was behind the plate in both games of the double-header), but Melendez blasted one out to right-center for his first career home run, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead.
The two-run deficit felt insurmountable against Singer, whose sinker/slider combination generated plenty of whiffs up and down the Sox lineup. He fanned a career-high nine hitters while walking none. The White Sox’ only baserunners against him were back-to-back singles up the middle in the first inning (by Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal) and fifth inning (by Andrew Vaughn and AJ Pollock), but neither threat ultimately bore fruit.
Mercifully, Singer gave way to Collin Snider in the eighth, which gave the Sox a chance to get back into it. With one out, AJ Pollock smoked a double into the left field corner, and Josh Harrison blooped one into right to put runners on the corners. That brought Adam Engel to the plate, who was leading off in place of Tim Anderson. Engel rolled one to Nicky Lopez on an excuse-me swing that was slow enough to get the run home and move the tying run in Harrison to second with two outs.
Yoan Moncada was up next and dropped an opposite-field single in front of Andrew Benintendi in left, leaving a tough decision in the hands of Joe McEwing. You can watch the full video of the play here, but check out where Harrison and Benintendi were when the latter got to the ball.
Under ordinary circumstances, this would be an insane send (particularly with Robert on deck), but McEwing pulled the trigger on it, perhaps recalling what happened the last time he aggressively sent Harrison home on Benintendi’s arm:
This time, Benintendi’s throw was competent, and Harrison was a dead duck. That turned out to be the last chance the White Sox would have, as Josh Staumont handled the heart of the order without incident in the top of the ninth.
*Pollock finished the double-header 3-for-5 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. Any signs of life are welcome here.
*Jose Abreu was taken out of the lineup for Game 2 and took his revenge by spending the game being a goofball on camera and bothering various teammates and coaches.
*Vaughn was 1-for-3, but his single was sandwiched between two horrible plate appearances that he gave away by chasing multiple pitches out of the zone. He’s now just 2-for-14 since returning from the IL with five strikeouts.
*Kyle Crick was called up as the 27th man for the double-header and pitched a scoreless ninth, notching two strikeouts.
*The game time was a crisp 2 hours, 35 minutes, thanks to Singer working quickly and Martin throwing strikes.