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Facing one-time, one-month teammate Ervin Santana leading off the ninth inning, José Abreu swung over a slider well out of the zone for strike three. He instinctively turned to return to the dugout, then glanced to his left, where he saw Cam Gallagher hustling all the way to the backstop to retrieve it.
Abreu kept on walking, and that was characteristic of the effort of this game across the board. Point a finger at one guy, and even a better effort there wouldn’t have been enough to reverse the tide.
Lucas Giolito didn’t have a breaking ball, which is kinda necessary when the Royals bring one of their contact-oriented efforts to the plate. They notched their share of BABIPpy singles, and they fought off his fastball and changeup until he threw worse versions of the same pitches they saw in the same at-bat, turning those into three homers over four innings. (They added a fourth off Jose Ruíz.)
But even if he pitched better, it would’ve been for naught. The White Sox were limited to an Abreu solo shot over nine innings, and Carlos Hernández picked up the win against the Sox for the second consecutive start. He survived some line drives, but he also missed more bats, resulting in six strikeouts over five innings.
White Sox hitters struck out 10 times against just two walks. The Royals also only drew two walks, but they struck out thrice.
Abreu’s solo shot was the only moment of offensive life, but he looked uncharacteristically flat in other areas. Besides the dropped third strike he didn’t heed, he also whiffed on Cesar Hernández’s perfectly fine throw from second base. It’s hard to say he needs a day off considering the homer, but considering Eloy Jiménez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts while Andrew Vaughn had the only stellar night — 2-for-2 with a walk — it might be worth rotating him off the field, if nothing else.
*Tim Anderson made two nice plays in the infield — backing up on a hot one-hopper from Hunter Dozier and recovering with his arm, then making a spinning throw after ranging to his left to get Emmanuel Rivera.
*Cleveland lost, so the White Sox still lead by 9½ games.