Jason Vargas and the Kansas City Royals weren’t just looking to win tonight — they were looking to extinguish a losing streak dancing dangerously close to double digits. Not exactly the run you want to carry into a new month.
The first few innings passed innocently enough with both teams putting runners on base, to equally anticlimactic results.
For example, the third inning started with Jacob May popping out on the first pitch, followed by Tyler Saladino drawing a walk on seven pitches, and Tim Anderson blooping a hit into right field thanks to a misread ball by Jorge Bonifacio. Melky flew out to Bonifacio on the next play, and Abreu watched the first two strikes go by before swinging through the third one.
The Royals’ third began with a gift double to Alcides Escobar, thanks to Melky and Leury Garcia both chasing a playable ball to the left-center wall, and neither coming up with the catch. Christian Colon bunted Escobar into third, where the Royals left him standing after a couple ground-outs.
To commence the fourth, Todd Frazier drew his second walk of the game. Two Sox batters and five pitches later, Omar Narvaez was up to keep the inning alive, with a single up the middle that moved Frazier into third. May followed suit with a single to left, and the Sox were first to strike.
The Royals didn’t delay in response though. Two quick outs into the bottom of the inning, Dylan Covey gave up a double to Alex Gordon, and Bonifacio brought him in with a no-doubter to left-center.
Royals 2, White Sox 1, as the game cruised into the fifth after just over an hour of play – a pace that seemed unreal given the combined eight runners that had already been stranded. This wasn’t exactly a pitching duel, but it was looking to be a brief affair.
The Sox had barely gotten their gloves off before their half of the inning was over and the Royals were back gnawing at Covey. Escobar led off with a single to left, and one batter later, Mike Moustakas moved him into second with a single to right. Lorenzo Cain walked to load the bases with one out, for Eric Hosmer.
Covey handled Hosmer in five pitches – a ball, followed by four swinging strikes with varying degrees of contact. But luck was on the Royals’ side, when Salvador Perez came up next and chopped a ball down the line that ricocheted off third base, allowing two runs to score before the inning ended with a Gordon fly-out.
Frazier again reached base via single to start to the sixth, which solidified a very productive night for him at DH. But the Sox couldn’t capitalize, so Covey returned the mound to see the Royals retire, un-deux-trois.
Covey’s night ended in the seventh inning, after a single to Colon triggered a series of unfortunate events that manifested into Royals runs. A wild pitch advanced Colon to second during Moustakas’ at-bat, and the Sox missed a chance to steal an out when Narvaez couldn’t quite track a high-popped foul, and earned himself an error. Moustakas grounded out after all, but the defensive clowning continued as Covey caught the high throw at first and seemed unable to locate the bag underfoot. The Sox barely made the play, and everything felt a little off-kilter at that point.
Cain struck out on a foul tip, and Hosmer returned to the plate with runners in scoring position… and this time, he didn’t miss the opportunity to stick a fork in Covey, with a two-run shot to center. 6-1 Royals, as Covey left and Michael Ynoa entered to complete the bottom half of the inning, by luring Perez on a changeup to ground out weakly to Saladino.
The Sox went quietly from there, and the Royals treated their home crowd to the end of the worst losing streak in Major League Baseball.