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White Sox 2, Royals 1: A series victory the hard way

Chris Sale had to work hard for his 11th win.
Chris Sale had to work hard for his 11th win.

Given that the White Sox hadn't won a series in Kansas City since May 29-31, 2009, it shouldn't come as a surprise that snapping the streak didn't come easy.

You can basically look at Chris Sale's day to get the feel of this one, because his results were prettier than his innings. He pitched eight innings of one-run ball, and he improved to 11-2 with a 2.11 ERA -- but he also scattered a season-high 11 hits, and was extremely lucky to get out of the eighth unscathed.

For the second straight game, Robin Ventura let his starter pitch deep into the eighth when he was well past 100 pitches, and looked the part. More specifically, Ventura didn't have anybody up in the bullpen when Sale started pitching to the first of four straight right-handed hitters. As Sale's fastball dropped below 90, Alcides Escobar led off with a line-drive single. Billy Butler followed with a line drive single to right, and Lorenzo Cain roped a liner that almost sailed on Dayan Viciedo in left.

Fortunately, Ned Yost had the wacky idea to bat Yuniesky Betancourt fifth. On a 1-0 pitch, Betancourt reached to tap an 87-mph something (that's how much Sale's stuff had diminished) back to the mound, and Sale started a 1-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Addison Reed pitched around a two-out single and stolen base to nail down the save.

This game wasn't exactly an offensive showcase on either side. After all, the game-winning run scored on a bases-loaded 5-3 double play off the bat of Alexei Ramirez in the second inning. An Adam Dunn solo homer in the first inning -- his league-leading 28th, and third in three games -- was the only other White Sox run. They let Luis Mendoza and his pals off the hook by going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Fortunately, the Royals weren't much better (2-for-12). They scratched their one run in the fifth inning. Mike Moustakas hit a single through the right side, moved to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on Chris Getz's bloop single.

Alex Gordon stayed with an outside fastball to drop a single to left, which allowed Getz to reach third, still with one out. But Sale came back to strike out Escobar, and Butler grounded to third to end the inning.

Bullet points:

  • Alexei Ramirez played a terrific defensive series.
  • The Royals failed to draw a walk in a game for the ninth time this season.
  • Paul Konerko went 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch, and his body language looked awful. On his inning-ending groundout to short with runners in scoring position, he dropped his head, slumped his shoulders, and took more than a second to start running. Escobar made a bad throw, but they still had plenty of time.

Record: 49-39 | Box score | Play-by-play