White Sox 7, Royals 4: Back in first after surviving the ninth

Tonight marked the ninth time in 2020 that the White Sox failed to homer.

They improved their record to 4-5 in such games, so hey, maybe their offense isn’t as reliant on the long ball as you think.

Or maybe Kansas City’s pitching staff just affords more opportunities than most. The White Sox have scored 16 runs in their two homerless games against the Royals, and a total of 13 runs in the other seven.

Either way, the White Sox to holding first place for themselves. Cleveland lost to Milwaukee, so the Sox now lead the division by a half-game over the Tribe and Minnesota, which swept its doubleheader against Detroit.

As is the standard with White Sox-Royals games in 2020, it was a three-hour, 42-minute slog. Dane Dunning had less command than we’ve seen from him, as he issued four walks over 4⅔ innings while throwing 88 pitches.

Also, Alex Colomé didn’t help matters. He entered with two outs in the eighth with a four-run lead, and ended it 40 pitches later by getting the potential tying run to hit a swinging bunt that James McCann fielded in time for a bang-bang 2-3 putout.

Set those stumbles aside, and the game was a triumph for an offense that applied steady pressure to Brady Singer and the KC bullpen throughout the evening. The Sox went just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, but it didn’t feel that bad for a number of reasons:

  1. They hit two sac flies.
  2. The Royals contributed one count of #WILDPITCHOFFENSE.
  3. The Sox twice doubled home a runner from first.

They could have used another hit here or there for a real knockout blow, but the body of work was sufficient to the task. The Sox outhit the Royals 14-9, they reached four more times on three walks and an HBP, everybody in the White Sox lineup reached base at least once, and they ended up scoring in six of nine innings as a result.

It’s a shame Dunning couldn’t get the W, but he wasn’t quite himself. He struggled with fastball command, especially with two strikes, and he could have fared far worse than the three runs he allowed. He escaped a collapse in the fourth by stranding the bases loaded with a popout and a groundout, so when he walked Alex Gordon with two outs and gave up a single to Edward Olivares on his 88th pitch, Rick Renteria came out with the hook.

Codi Heuer went four up, four down in relief of Dunning, and on just 10 pitches. That’s the same amount of outs as Colomé recorded on just a quarter of the pitch count.

Bullet points:

*Nick Madrigal once again tormented Singer with a couple of soft singles to center, one of which scored a run. He also had an active night in the field, covering ground to flag down a few pop-ups.

*José Abreu seized the league lead in RBIs at 38 with a two-run double.

*Eloy Jiménez scored Luis Robert from first on his double, part of a 3-for-5 night that hopefully brings an end to his slump.

*Tim Anderson owned the only misplay in the field, firing home on a fielder’s choice instead of getting the first out for Dunning in the fourth. The throw was in time, but McCann had to go across his body to apply the tag behind him, and it didn’t appear that he was set up optimally for a shorter path. Home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn said McCann didn’t connect with his swipe, and had the Sox challenged it, there probably wouldn’t have been conclusive evidence in either direction.

*The White Sox are now 7-1 against the Royals this season.

Record: 24-15 | Box score | Highlights

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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polishwith

When is the last time Colome has thrown a clean 9th?

Brett R. Bobysud

Who is the team MVP at this point in the season?

IllinoisJones

Lots of candidates, but my vote goes to Timmy.

GrinnellSteve

Yeah, I gotta go with Timmy, too. The defense has been improved, and his speed is a weapon. He makes the team go. But it’s neck and neck with Abreu and Robert, with Eloy and Giolito waiting in the wings.

Oddvark

I’d give it to the bullpen, if I could vote for them as one player. As far as starting pitching, while Giolito is our Cy Young candidate, Keuchel has arguably been more valuable to the team, virtually always giving up 2 runs or fewer over 5+ innings (one time giving up just 3 runs over 6 IP). Niether one has been dominant enough to be considererd MVP for the 8-9 games they’ve played in.

So Anderson would also get my vote. Abreu does have an 18-game hitting streak going, but a lot of his power numbers come just from those 3 games against the Cubs, while Timmy has more consistently been a performer and a catalyst when he has played. And Robert is going to be winning league MVPs for years to come, so I’m OK with dinging him based on his plate discipline/strikeout rate for this fake mid-season short-season team MVP award.

asinwreck

Will Nick Madrigal hit .400 for the season?

Will Nick Madrigal slug .400 for the season?

GoGoSoxFan

My guess: No and Yes.

ForsterFTOG

Will Nomar Mazara slug .300 for the season?

iowasox1971

Was it REALLY worth it to bring Colome in during the eighth? I could see doing that if this were a late September game and we absolutely had to win to keep our playoff hopes alive. But that’s not our situation right now. It is extremely unlikely we will miss the playoffs, and playoff positioning is not all that important this season. Home-field advantage has been minimized with fans not in attendance, and the probable playoff opponents are all fairly equally dangerous. There really is not much difference between being the first seed in the AL vs. being the eighth seed.

So why burn out a closer who has been effective this season? Is Renteria trying to do the same thing to Colome that he has been doing to Cordero?

Oddvark

Renteria brought in Colome in the eighth a bunch of times last year, when the Sox weren’t even in contention, so I don’t think his decision making process had anything to do with playoff positioning this year. He just thought it was the best chance to win this individual game and 1 extra batter wasn’t going to make much difference.

iowasox1971

Last year, we weren’t in contention. This year, we are, and we need to have bullpen pieces healthy for the playoffs.

If you didn’t see the latest news, Fry’s on the IL now, and Bummer was placed on the 45-day IL. So, we’re running out of guys. The recent heavy usage of Colome and Cordero is not wise, and, at this rate, they could end up on the shelf soon, too.

Oddvark

We need a guy like this: