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Dylan Cease extended his streak of starts with fewer than two earned runs allowed to 14.
For his effort, he was saddled with his fifth loss of the season thanks to poor support before and after his six innings.
The White Sox outhit the Royals 14-8 and outhomered them 2-1, but they faltered with runners in scoring position repeatedly, and Tony La Russa compounded the problem with some mishandling of leverage later. Throw in a couple of defensive miscues and one glaring lapse in the hustle department, and fans were “treated” to the 2022 Sampler.
This game took a key turn for the worse in the seventh inning when Joe Kelly retired only one of three batters he faced, then departed with a trainer escort due to lightheadedness. With runners on second and third, one out and the Sox trying to limit KC’s lead to 1-0, Tony La Russa could have used any one of his relievers, who would’ve had all the time needed to warm up.
Instead, he chose the already warm José Ruiz, and Ruiz gave up a pair of run-scoring singles before could record a pair of outs, and the Sox fell behind 4-0.
That’s when the offense finally responded. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run shot in the eighth for his first homer since May 16 that halved the Royals’ lead. They continued to pressure the Royals by loading the bases in painstaking fashion, but Luis Robert lined out to left to leave the sacks packed.
Then Matt Foster couldn’t keep the Royals from answering in the eighth, with Bobby Witt Jr. singling with two outs, stealing second and scoring on Michael A. Taylor’s single that fell in front of Andrew Vaughn two batters later.
Vaughn made up for that run with a solo shot off Scott Barlow in the top of the ninth, but the Sox needed more, and they could only offer two strikeouts and a weak groundout to seal the the series loss.
So the Sox couldn’t get Cease off the hook, even though his lone crime was allowing a solo shot to Vinnie Pasquantino in the second inning. That was the only damage Cease suffered over six innings, and you could see Cease dig deeper to ward off subsequent threats.
When he opened the fourth inning with two walks over the first three batters, but after a mound visit, he struck out Hunter Dozier on three pitches, starting a run of five strikeouts over six batters. His fastball rounded up to 100 at times, and his slider crossed 90 mph. He pitched as though he could erase the run on the board if he tried hard enough.
(He also overcome a Josh Harrison mishandling a hot shot to second in the sixth by getting Salvador Perez to ground into a double play.)
The White Sox offense lacked that sort of confidence and competence. The White Sox singled off Zack Greinke once in the first, twice in the second and three times in the third, and yet they came with zero runs.
In the second, Lenyn Sosa grounded into an inning-ending double play. In the third, Seby Zavala failed to read Andrew Vaughn’s single to right field from second base, which resulted in Luis Robert coming up 10 feet from passing him rounding second. The Sox should’ve come away with one run, but instead they merely loaded the bases. Greinke recovered by working over Jiménez with a pair of slow curveballs outside the zone for one strikeout, then yo-yo’d Abreu by alternating slow and fast over a four-pitch sequence, resulting in him being way late on 90 for strike one, ahead on a 73 mph curveball, then over a changeup at 87. Grandal then grounded out the bury the day’s best opportunity.
In the sixth — an inning Greinke hadn’t pitched in since June — the Sox put runners on the corners with one out, only to see Yoán Moncada strike out and Harrison fly out. The White Sox went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.
*Harrison also failed to tag Witt fast enough on a perfect throw from Seby Zavala in the seventh inning. The play was upheld after a challenge, and Nicky Lopez’s single to center off Ruiz scored two runs instead of one.
*Robert didn’t run hard out of the box with Zavala on second and one out in the seventh, which allowed second baseman Michael Massey to recover after his bobble and retire Robert by a step and change. Had Robert exerted himself, there would’ve been runners on the corners with one out on the Royals’ second error of the inning.
*Sosa was indeed tested by the Royals’ more proven starters, going 0-for-8 with three strikeouts over the last two games facing Grienke and Kris Bubic.
*Vaughn was robbed of a single with a great ranging catch by Nate Eaton in right, then allowed a pair of hits to fall in front of him over the course of the afternoon.