As the old saying goes when playing the Kansas City Royals, “After Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Sal Perez and maybe Alex Gordon, you can’t let Whit Merrifield beat you.”
The White Sox paid no heed to that time-tested adage. Merrifield hit a pair of homers — including a game-tying shot in the eighth -- and made a couple of fine defensive plays, which help set up a walk-off single by Brandon Moss. The Sox have now lost nine in a row after this latest sweep.
The White Sox had a stirring comeback in mind. After the Royals added to Derek Holland’s second-time-through problems with back-to-back-to-back homers to start the fourth inning, the Sox roared back with four in the fifth. The Sox loaded the bases with one-out singles, and Adam Engel cleared them with a double down the left-field line, with Yolmer Sanchez scoring on an aggressive send by Ever Magallanes. Jose Abreu then cashed in Engel with a two-out double.
The problem is 1) Holland could only go 4 2⁄3 innings after holding the Royals hitless through three, and 2) Rick Renteria has no good options after Anthony Swarzak and Dan Jennings.
Swarzak did his job, stranding two inherited runners, then pitching a scoreless sixth. Jennings did his job in the seventh, but Merrifield got down on a not-terrible slider and golfed it out to left to tie the game at 4. Even then, Jennings struck out four over 1 2⁄3 innings after retiring all seven batters he faced in the opener of this series.
But afterwards, Renteria is a human shrug emoji. He went to Gregory Infante to face Perez, which worked out well enough with a strikeout. But then Infante started the ninth by giving up a single to Moustakas, and pinch-running Cain took second on a pitch in the dirt. Infante then hit Alcides Escobar, and Renteria then called for Tyler Clippard, who gave up a walk-off double to Moss.
*Yoan Moncada went 0-for-4 with his first strikeout, as well as a couple comebackers that were successfully gloved or knocked down by the pitcher.
*The White Sox committed a pair of TOOTBLANs. Sanchez was picked off second after a leadoff double in the third, and Davidson hung himself out to dry after his own leadoff double in the sixth following one of the aforementioned Moncada comebackers.
*Melky Cabrera left the game a little after fouling a ball off his foot.