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Royals 4, White Sox 2: Missed opportunity

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Chicago weather is hot; the offense is not

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

After a four-day break thanks to the All-Star festivities, the White Sox and their fans had reasons to be excited entering a four-game weekend series against the Kansas City Royals.

  • The Sox were hot, entering the break winning 9 of their last 12 games.
  • Jeff Samardzija was hot, allowing only 10 earned runs over his past six starts.
  • Even the weather turned up the temperature amp to 11 as it was 98 degrees at game time.

It's just too bad the offense isn't heating up.

Kansas City got the scoring started in the first inning, when Lorenzo Cain doubled off Samardzija down the left-field line, scoring Alcides Escobar, who led off the game with a walk and a stolen base. The Sox tried to duplicate that game plan when Chris Young walked Adam Eaton to start the bottom half. With an 0-2 count on Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton was caught stealing for the fourth time this season. Abreu struck out later in the at bat and Melky Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.

Bottom of the second, Chicago decided to give it another shot with the speed game as Avisail Garcia led off with a walk. With two outs and Geovany Soto at bat, Garcia attempted to put himself in scoring position, but alas, he was also caught stealing to end the inning. While Garcia does demonstrate hustle on his way to first base, he is now 4-for-10 in stolen base attempts, and perhaps should not be attempting to swipe bags for the remainder of 2015.

After failing trying to implement the speed strategy, Robin Ventura wisely decided to launch the DINGERS offense, as Soto hit his fifth home run of the season to tie the game at 1. The Sox had an opportunity to score more runs, as Tyler Saladino bunted his way on and Abreu walked for the first time since June 25. With Saladino leading off second, catcher Drew Butera, who already gunned down two base runners, tried to pick off Saladino at second. This time it was an errant throw and both runners advanced 90 feet. That's where they stayed, as Cabrera swung through a 87 mph fastball for the third out.

Game remained tied til the top of the fifth inning. With two outs, Mike Moustakas and Samardzija engaged in an entertaining battle as Moustakas fouled off pitch after pitch, setting up Hawk Harrelson's adage, "The more pitches you see the more dangerous you become."

On the 12th pitch, this happened:

Moustakas eighth home run gave the Royals a 2-1 lead, but it didn't last long. Continuing to flex his muscles, Adam Eaton finally got a hold of a Chris Young fastball to hit his seventh home run of the year, tying the game at 2

Halfway home, the White Sox had responded to every offensive punch thrown by the Royals. The counters ended  end in the sixth inning, as Eric Hosmer stretched a single into a double. Garcia almost foiled Hosmer by throwing a fadeaway strike to second base that beat Hosmer to the bag. Alexei Ramirez fielded cleanly, but completely missed the tag.

That missed tag became pretty significant as Kendrys Morales followed the double with a single of his own. Runners on first and third with no outs, Omar Infante did get Hosmer home, but at the cost of hitting into a 4-6-3 double play. Two outs, and leading 3-2, Alex Rios stepped into the batters' box.

Then this happened:

That is Rios' first home run since his blast off Kyle Drabek on Opening Day.

Now leading 4-2, Ned Yost could activate his bullpen and set the game to cruise control as Ryan Madson entered the sixth inning. With one out, Garcia started a potential rally with a single to right field.  Adam LaRoche followed up by a double down the left-field line, his 15th of the year. Runners in scoring position and a couple of outs to play with, Ramirez and Soto both hit weak grounders back to Madson to kill the rally without scoring a run.

Trade watch: Samardzija's stock dipped very slightly as his final line was 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR.

Game Notes:

  • Jose Abreu's hitting streak stopped at 13 games
  • Tyler Saladino had his first multi-hit game of his career and showed he can pick it at the hot corner.
  • Speaking of picking it:

Record: 41-46 | Box ScorePlay-by-Play