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Royals 2, White Sox 1: Series ends with a thud

Tyler Flowers can't maintain control of ball after collision for game-winning run

Jonathan Daniel

With the game tied at 1 in the ninth inning and Mike Moustakas coming home on a bloop single by Norichika Aoki, a charging Adam Eaton made a perfect one-hop throw to Tyler Flowers, who caught the ball and placed the tag as Moustakas made a hard feet-first slide into the plate.

The throw beat Moustakas, but Moustakas' knee beat Flowers' ability to get a good handle on the baseball. It had rolled toward the edge of his mitt, and it went flying out toward the backstop as Moustakas crashed in to score the decisive run in both the game and the series.

It's easy to point the finger at Flowers -- the official scorer certainly did -- but he may have done a favor for those on hand. Given the disparity between bullpens and the lackluster output by the White Sox offense, it's easy to think that slapping down a successful tag would've merely delayed the inevitable.

I had one eye and one ear on this game at the office, and it seemed like the entire game consisted of Jose Quintana always pitching and the Royals hitting grounders, at least from the second inning on.

That doesn't appear to be that far from the truth. Quintana pitched seven sterling innings, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks. He only struck out three, but he countered that with 13 groundouts, zero flyouts and four double plays.

Lorenzo Cain scored the lone run off Quintana, and he was the game's first batter. He led off with a double and advanced the rest of the way on productive outs to give the Royals a quick 1-0 lead. The Sox answered with a pair of two-out hits -- a Jose Abreu double and an Adam Dunn RBI single -- to tie it up.

It remained that way until the ninth. Quintana got grounder after grounder, and while Shields had to work harder initially, he settled in as well to match Quintana with a seven-inning ND.

The game only shifted out of its malaise when the game turned to the bullpens. Ronald Belisario faced runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth, issued an intentional walk to load the bases. Ned Yost went to lefty Raul Ibanez, Robin Ventura went to lefty Eric Surkamp, and the Surkamp prevailed by getting the inning-ending popout.

There was no such escape in the ninth. Zach Putnam gave up a leadoff single to Moustakas, who advanced on a sac bunt and scored on Aoki's blooper. Putnam walked Cain, and after Cain stole second, Ventura called for yet another bases-loaded intentional walk to bring up Billy Butler. The plan worked, although it required a sensational  backhand stab by Gordon Beckham to start an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

The White Sox offense couldn't apply the same pressure to Wade Davis (1-2-3 eighth) or Greg Holland (1-2-3 ninth). And hell, the Sox could only manage a pair of singles and another baserunner on an error after the second inning.

Beckham helped out pitchers on both sides quite a bit. He was a mean man on the pivot, turning three double plays before starting the one in the ninth. Batting second, he also spoiled the Sox' last two best chances to score, grounding out on the first pitch with the bases loaded in the second, and hitting into a 4-6-3 double play when Adam Eaton reached on an error to start the fifth. He went 0-for-4 with four stranded, and only saw seven pitches.

Bullet points:

*Beckham hit second because Dayan Viciedo was a late scratch with a hamstring issue. He could've hit lower in the lineup and Alexei Ramirez manning the No. 2 spot as originally planned, but that would've necessitated somebody like Beckham, Tyler Flowers or Moises Sierra hitting fifth.

*Conor Gillaspie joined Beckham with a strong day in the field, double plays and making a diving stab and a diving grab, too.

Record: 48-54 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights