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Royals 4, White Sox 1: Series loss sets course for second half

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An all-around subpar effort pushes the Sox into "seller" territory, if anybody wants what they have

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

An announced crowd of 32,175 came to U.S. Cellular Field to close out the 2005 World Series reunion weekend. Up until fourth-to-last batter of the game, they had nothing to cheer for.

Chris Sale might have elicited some excitement for his work on a normal day, but he fell behind 1-0 on soft contact in the first inning, and the offense never came to his rescue. The Royals made him work like they usually do, and Sale had them contained pretty well until a two-run Paulo Orlando homer in the seventh put the game out of reach. While he threw "only" 105 pitches, he stayed in longer than was necessary, especially on a day where his stuff wasn't as great as it had been.

Plus, the offense never gave any strong signs that it was capable of a crooked number. Melky Cabrera set a certain tone by starting the second inning with a double, then getting thrown out at third on a grounder to short. They also grounded into a couple of double plays, which didn't help.

But the game became truly redundant in the sixth inning. Carlos Sanchez led off with a bad-hop single, and Adam Eaton followed by slashing a liner to left. Tyler Saladino then bunted them over to put the first real pressure on Danny Duffy all day.

The bunt would have normally taken the bat out of Jose Abreu's hands, but curiously, the Royals went right at him. Duffy struck him out, and then he froze Cabrera with a curve to keep the shutout intact.

Duffy entered the game with a 4.65 ERA, so of course he threw his longest career outing with eight strong innings. Ned Yost let him attempt to go the distance for his first complete game, but Saladino led off the ninth with his first career homer -- the only bright spot all day -- to dash those dreams. The Royals instead settled for a different kind of first, as Joe Blanton came in and retired the Sox in order (including strikeouts of Abreu and Cabrera) for his first save.

The Sox did turn four double plays, but Tyler Flowers allowed a passed ball, and Eaton broke two steps back on a fly ball that dropped in front of him. So the Sox weren't that sharp in any facet of the game, and when Flowers took strike three thinking it was strike two in the eighth inning, too many people in the stadium were probably wishing they were somewhere else. And after losing three of four to a divisional opponent to open the second half, some of those in uniform will join Conor Gillaspie in being elsewhere soon enough.

Bullet point:

Record: 42-48 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights