The Royals weren't supposed to sweep the White Sox in Chicago on the strength of their defense, but that's what's happened.
On Saturday, David Lough's diving catch took the tying run off the board. Today, Jarrod Dyson made a perfect throw on an Alejandro De Aza single to cut down Blake Tekotte at the plate in the 10th inning, keeping the Royals' dreams alive.
And when free baseball came, the White Sox's facepalm-prone defense pulled off a back-to-back job that changed the game.
Donnie Veal started the 12th by getting the speedy Dyson to hit a grounder to Gordon Beckham's right. Beckham ranged and squared it off, but he couldn't get a grip on it for a throw, and Dyson reached on a "single." But the Sox would figure out how to get the error up there when Dyson stole second, and Josh Phegley's throw bounced into center field, allowing Dyson to take third. Phegley was charged with the error, but Ramirez didn't make an incredible effort to at least knock it down.
All Alex Gordon needed to do was a hit a flyball. He did that and more by crushing a 2-2 fastball over the wall in center to give the Royals a 4-2 lead.
The Sox did put together a decent threat in the bottom of the 12th, as Jeff Keppinger and Tekotte hit back-to-back singles with one out to bring the winning run to the plate. Gordon Beckham flied out to right, and Josh Phegley popped out to second on a steady dose of sliders, sealing the sweep.
But hey, the Sox had already exceeded their run total over the first two games of this series, so the White Sox pitching staff should be relatively grateful for the effort.
Hector Santiago and the bullpen weren't perfect, but they were good enough on most day. The Royals took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning during which Santiago's control abandoned him. With one out, he walked David Lough, gave up an RBI double to Miguel Tejada. After a strikeout, he walked two more batters to load the bases, and prompted Don Cooper to call for the bullpen. He rebounded to strike out Alex Gordon, and that put him back on track for a strong 6⅔ innings (five hits, four walks, seven strikeouts).
And when he gave the game to the bullpen, the relievers did what they could to keep it going.Nate Jones (2⅓ IP), Addison Reed (1 IP) and Veal's first inning gave White Sox pitchers this line through 11: 11 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 13 K.
The flagging White Sox lineup could only get Santiago off the hook, as Adam Dunn took Bruce Chen very deep to center for a game-tying solo shot in the sixth. Otherwise, the only other scoring came courtesy of a Paul Konerko RBI single that tied the game at 1 after one.
Beyond the occasional pulse, Chen and the Kansas City bullpen were even stingier: 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. But had the Sox pitching staff duplicated that line, it still wouldn't have been enough to take a single game in this series, which is why everybody is crossing their fingers for a significant deadline shakeup.