KANSAS CITY — At a time when the Chicago White Sox pitching staff could really have used a breather, starter Dallas Keuchel and ace reliever Carson Fulmer delivered.
Their combined eight hits and three runs provided just enough resistance for their weird South Side offense to squeak by, for a 5-3 win to open a series in K.C.
It marks the second time already this season that Keuchel (now 2-0, with a 2.31 ERA) defeated Jakob Junis. Junis actually pitched well and dodged the loss, because once again the Royals opted for an opener to the game.
Tyler Zuber got the call for the first inning — and it didn’t go well. Yoán Moncada led off the game with a single, was pushed to second on a run-and-hit with Nick Madrigal (making his first career start at shortstop), and came in on an Eloy Jiménez single.
But the boys didn’t stop there.
The sacks eventually got packed, on a Zack Collins single and Luis Robert walk. And at that point, Zuber departed with just one out notched on his belt. Junis, entering in an unfamiliar mid-inning, saw his second pitch turn into a Leury García RBI single. With the score 2-0, however, Junis settled down enough to whiff José Abreu and get Nomar Mazara on a screaming liner to center.
In the second inning, Collins got his second hit of the game, a double, and came in on a Robert single. The sacks again eventually were packed, and this time Wild Pitch Offense led to Robert scoring and the White Sox going up, 4-0.
Meanwhile, Keuchel was cruising, with three innings completed at just 28 pitches. It wasn’t until Salvador Perez led off the fifth inning with a single that K.C. had a hit. But Adalberto Mondesi drove Perez home with a two-run shot, slicing the Sox lead in half.
Leading 5-3, Keuchel started the eighth with a single and walk. Enter Fulmer, who has been a miracle worker in 2020. On Fulmer’s third pitch, he coaxed a 6-4-3 double play to extinguish the Royals rally.
And given a chance at his second career save (and second this season), Fulmer delivered. Two Royals got on with singles, but the game ended on a Whit Merrifield drive to left-center that Robert snagged with a diving catch.
What an ending!
It’s Reynaldo López up on Tuesday night, and hopefully he can duplicate his gem against K.C. back in March — his only strong start this season.
NOTES: It was announced after the game that the White Sox had successfully claimed ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte off of waivers from the Miami Marlins ... Venditte pitched in three games for the Marlins in 2020, for 3 ⅓ innings and a 2.70 ERA ... Venditte had a 1.59 ERA over six games this spring for Miami ... holds a 5.03 career ERA and 5.04 FIP in 58 games ... demoted to make room for Venditte was Jimmy “Biceps” Cordero, who was 2-0 for the White Sox so far this season but held a 6.48 ERA over five games/8 ⅓ innings ... Caleb Frare, hit hard early for the Knights, was demoted to Double-A Birmingham to make room for Cordero ... at 10-6, the White Sox are tied atop the American League with Texas ... the White Sox magic number is 146.
Around the majors
- First Star today was reigning NL Player of the Week Pete Alonso, who went 3-for-3 with a double, two homers, six RBIs, three runs and two walks in a 9-4 Mets win over Atlanta.
- Taking the Second Star was Max Scherzer, who went 7 ⅔ scoreless innings and gave up just three hits and three walks against eight Ks in a 1-0 squeaker over Seattle.
- Third Star, barf edition, was Justin Verlander, who pitched his Astros to a 5-2 win over Tampa with eight innings of three-hit, two-run, three-walk, 10-K ball.
- Minnesota scored five runs over the final two frames to stun Toronto, 8-5. Max Kepler hit his eight home run of the season in the win.
- Shin-Soo Choo crushed a solo homer off of Chad Green on the third pitch of the ninth to lift the Rangers to a 6-5 thriller over the Yankees, who have now fallen to 8-9.
- Zach Wheeler earned his first win with the Phillies, throwing 6 ⅓ innings of one-run, three-hit (three walks, eight whiffs) ball to beat the Brewers, 2-1. Philadelphia completed a doubleheader sweep thanks to Rhys Hoskins’ two homers and six overall Phillies round-trippers in an 11-5 rout.