But Ned Yost had a secret weapon -- Luis Mendoza. Sure, his ERA (5.56) paled in comparison to Luke Hochevar's even 9.00 on Saturday, but Mendoza carried a 2.074 WHIP into the game, including 16 walks to just nine strikeouts over 22 2/3 innings. Which means he was still terrible enough to subdue the White Sox.
His game plan was simple -- fastballs in and curves away. He really didn't deviate from it over his 5 2/3 innings. But outside of Paul Konerko, who was ready for an inside fastball and somehow kept it inside the left field line for an RBI single, they couldn't make good contact when it counted. The White Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
White Sox pitching couldn't make that one run hold up. It's hard to fault the pitching for losing a game with so little support, but it picked an especially irritating way to blow the lead.
Robin Ventura called for Matt Thornton to replace Philip Humber after his two-out walk, setting up a lefty-lefty match-up against Jarrod Dyson. A good idea in theory, but Thornton walked Dyson on five pitches. Ned Yost replaced Chris Getz with Johnny Giovatella for a matchup advantage of his own.
Thornton got ahead 0-2, and Tyler Flowers called for a slider down and in. Thornton missed on the other side of the plate, and very down. The slider bounced, Flowers tried to backhand it, and it skipped over his glove to put both runners into scoring position.
Flowers called for a fastball in on the next pitch. Thornton threw a fastball out, and Giovatella went with it and lined a double to right. Choosing Thornton might not have been a bad call, but he executed poorly, and the Sox paid for it.
But hey, the Sox have no margin for error when they score one run over 18 innings against the worst of the Royals' pitching staff (Hochevar and Mendoza). The Royals piled on against Nate Jones (solo homer) Addison Reed (scored upon for the first time in 2012, five times) and Eric Stults, but with the way the White Sox hit, all of it was unnecessary.
Lost in this mess was Humber's return to acceptability. The results were great, and the performance matched the zeroes as the game moved along. He threw some outstanding curves in his later innings, which is why it was a surprise when Robin Ventura pulled him for Thornton after that two-out walk. Humber had thrown 101 pitches, but after more questionable longer leashes recently, it seemed like an odd time for a conventional move.
- Flowers threw out Dyson at second, and has thwarted six of seven steal attempts. Dyson was actually clearly safe, but who's counting?
- Adam Dunn was thrown out stealing second when a 3-2 curveball surprised Konerko for an inning-ending double play.