So, the game boiled down to this play. Spoiler alert: It didn’t turn out too well for the Chicago White Sox.
After a leadoff double in the 10th from Brian Goodwin, Alcides Escobar tapped a strong sacrifice bunt to move Goodwin to third, where all hell broke loose, sending the White Sox to defeat, 4-3.
It’s easy to jump on reliever Jeanmar Gómez for poor execution at third base, but the truth is, there was no play at third base:
And while Gómez needed to make the split-second decision to go to first base, or just cap-tip Escobar and eat the ball, his infielders must help his decision-making. And in that case, José Abreu gets the assist for the loss:
From the moment the ball hit turf, Abreu was screaming for Gómez to make the play at third. A good throw just results in first and third, no outs — but the White Sox would have gotten Escobar at first base, so Abreu’s aggressive call didn’t help matters.
Anyway, it’s a sixth straight loss for the White Sox, and credit due, it sure was an exotic way to lose.
Shame, though, because the game started out much more promising.
Lucas Giolito continued his relative mastery of the Royals, with his fifth quality start in six career tries vs. K.C., not exactly exploding the game score-board with a 48 (and, by the way, nobody told me, but Mach 2 game scores, as seen at both MLB.com and FanGraphs, use 40, not 50, as the starting point for game scores now, so this one qualifies as above average), throwing seven innings and six hits, three earned, two walks and three Ks.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, John Jakob Jingleheimer Junis was just as good as Giolito, better, even. Junis threw eight efficient innings (99 pitches), with seven hits, three earned and five Ks against no walks, for a 58 game score.
Both starters were stung for two home runs apiece, and in fact those homers accounted for all but one run in the game, until the 10th. Whit Merrifield (first) and Ryan O’Hearn (sixth) clocked solo shots for K.C., but the third Royals run came home on a strange play, indeed.
It was the second inning, with runners at first and third and one out. Escobar lofted a bloop down the right-field line that Daniel Palka had no chance of snagging; however, with a clever defensive play, Palka duped the runner on first, Goodwin, into thinking he could catch the ball, slowing him enough to get him on the rare, 9-6 fielder’s choice. K.C. took a 2-0 lead, but the damage could have been worse. What Palka may lack in speed, quickness, fundamentals or instincts, he does offset a scad with determination and cleverness.
The White Sox took the lead in the third inning, when Adam Engel earned the home run medallion with a leadoff homer, knocked off of a juicy, center-cut, 90 mph meatball from Junis:
Four batters later, and with two out and Abreu (single) on first, Palka turned on some inside cheese from Junis and put Chicago ahead 3-2 with a deep screamer inside the right-field fair pole:
Tenth inning quarterbacking aside, Abreu had a triumphant return from testicular surgery, going 3-for-4, with three singles and a run scored.
The White Sox as a team had eight hits in the game, but just one in the seven innings that unfurled after the third. Chicago went down 1-2-3 from the fourth through the eighth; Abreu led off the ninth with a single, but went nowhere. In extras, the White Sox surrendered 1-2-3, if for no reason but habit.
Of note, the White Sox also walked a total of zero times in the game.
With the loss, Chicago has crept within 7 1⁄2 games of last place in the AL Central, with 18 to play.
Tomorrow night, it’s Dylan “TBA” Covey on the bump vs. sweet-slinging Brad Keller. Perhaps some pregame infield, or pitcher’s defense drills, are in order.