#royals yost on what will turn his team around: "One hit. Just one big hit."— Jeffrey Flanagan (@jflanagankc) July 21, 2014
The struggling Royals didn't get that "one big hit" against Chris Sale tonight. They gave Sale their customary annoying time, with seven hits and a walk over seven innings. One of those hits was a nice, small single up the middle by Danny Valencia that cut the White Sox' lead to 2-1 in the fourth.
But the big hit was lacking, and when third base coach Mike Jirschele tried sending Valencia from first on Alcides Escobar's double to left, they couldn't manufacture it, either. A nice relay from Alejandro De Aza to Alexei Ramirez to Tyler Flowers cut down Valencia with feet to spare, and the Royals never scored again.
The White Sox didn't get a huge hit, either, but with Sale on the mound, they didn't need one. Adam Dunn's shift-thwarting bases-loaded single off brought in two runs before Jeremy Guthrie recorded his first out, and that's all Sox pitchers needed tonight.
Guthrie eventually settled down, retiring 10 of 11 at one point before a leadoff walk to Dunn came around to score on a Gordon Beckham sac fly for an insurance run in the sixth. He experienced smoother sailing than Sale for most of his night, but the Condor had an answer for his biggest jams. The Royals stranded runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and Sale responded to that last one with his best pitching of the night.
Salvador Perez led off with a single, and a wild pitch took away the double play with nobody out. Sale struck out Alex Gordon with a nasty slider (no small feat, as Gordon had two hits against Sale), and then pitched around Billy Butler to restore the double play. He didn't need it, because his blew a full-count (sixth pitch) fastball past Valencia for the second out, and froze Escobar with a full-count fastball on the eighth pitch of that battle to end the inning.
The sixth required 27 pitches, and ran his pitch count to 98 entering the seventh. Robin Ventura didn't have to worry about a mid-inning hook, because he breezed through three hitters on eight pitches, with two popouts and an ugly half-swing strikeout to close the book on his evening.
Ronald Belisario pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and Jake Petricka worked around a one-out single by starting a 1-6-3 double play for the save.
*After Guthrie nicked Alexei Ramirez with a fastball and plunked Conor Gillaspie with another one in the first inning, Sale threw one at Danny Valencia with two outs in the second to send a message. The game continued without further incident.
*Sale improved to 9-1 with a 2.03 ERA on the season.
*Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a double in his fourth and final at-bat of the night.
*Tyler Flowers mashed a ball off the facing of the club-level seating beyond the left field foul pole. It was initially ruled a foul ball, and an umpire review upheld the call. The ball went over the foul pole, and for some reason there's no straight-shot angle down the foul line, so there was no way to tell.