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Six Pack of Stats: Royals 6, White Sox 2 (Opener)

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The South Siders scored first, but Kansas City homer snapped the win streak

A pair of home runs gave the Royals the momentum.
FanGraphs

The White Sox’s six-game win streak came to an end in a 6-2 loss to the spiraling Royals, who had lost 11 straight contests entering Friday. Baseball is weird sometimes.

Luckily, there’s a second game, at 7:10 p.m., for the White Sox to get back in the win column. But most of the attention will be on José Abreu’s health moving forward, as the lineup can’t suffer another gigantic blow.


The Starters

Lucas Giolito’s slow start to the season continued against the Royals. He hasn’t looked like the White Sox ace, outside of a pair of starts, but rather the weak point of the rotation. The Royals’ home runs were aided by the wind, but Kansas City is also a team that only scored five runs twice during its 11-game losing streak.

To Giolito’s credit, he bounced back to pitch six innings, allowing five earned runs on five hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. The Royals had five hard-hit balls, but none in Giolito’s final two innings. He also had a defensive blunder in the fifth inning, though, when he didn’t cover first base on a potential double play that first baseman Yasmani Grandal fielded.

Giolito relied heavily on his changeup today; after throwing it 34.7% of the time this season and his 4-seamer 48.9% of the time, the percentages flipped against the Royals. He had 12 whiffs with his changeup and didn’t allow a hit. He gave up three hits, including a homer, on his slider, which opponents had a .288 xBA against before Friday, and two hits on his 4-seamer. Giolito finished with a game score of 40.

Here’s a look at his 98-pitch start:

Baseball Savant

Brad Keller labored through a 36-pitch, one-run first inning, which was ended by a bad strike-three call on Grandal. Despite the White Sox recording eight hard-hit balls, they couldn’t build on a promising first inning. Keller’s seven strikeouts and forcing a double play in the fifth inning helped him limit the White Sox to two earned runs on five hits and three walks in his five-inning start. His command improved, as he retired six consecutive batters following the first frame.

Keller’s pitch mix lined up almost identical to his season averages. He relied on his 4-seam fastball slightly more than his slider, but used his slider more as the game progressed. He finished with a game score of 55.

Here’s a breakdown from Keller’s 97-pitch start:

Baseball Savant

Pressure Play

Abreu’s only at-bat clocked in as the highest-pressure play today. He hit a sacrifice fly to right fielder Jorge Soler to score Tim Anderson, giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the first inning. His at-bat had 2.12 LI.


Pressure Cooker

Due to leaving after his first at-bat, Abreu faced the most individual pressure (2.12 pLI) in the game. Grandal (1.42 pLI) and Adam Eaton (1.35 pLI) also faced significant pressure, but combined to go 0-for-6 with five strikeouts and a double play in the face of it.


Top Play

Michael A. Taylor’s home run swayed the win probability by 23.1% (.231 WPA) toward the Royals, who took a 2-1 lead. Salvador Perez’s three-run blast had a .180 WPA.


Top Performer

Taylor was by far the player of the game. He went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer and two strikeouts to own a .220 WPA.

The White Sox’s top player by WPA was Yoán Moncada (.081). He finished 1-for-2 with a walk.


Smackdown

Luckiest hit: The wind was blowing out on Friday, and it helped the Royals hit a pair of homers. Taylor’s home run had a .160 xBA, while Perez’s bomb had a .190 xBA.

Toughest out: Leury Garcia’s diving catch in the seventh inning prevented Whit Merrifield from getting on base. The soft-hit 83.4-mph liner had a .740 xBA.

Hardest hit: Zack Collins hit his double down the right field line at 108.7 mph. He later scored on Andrew Vaughn’s sacrifice fly.

Weakest contact: Hunter Dozier’s pop out to Yasmani Grandal in the second inning was hit at 58.9 mph. Unfortunately, the easy out also turned into a scary collision between Dozier and Abreu.

Longest hit: Merrifield’s fly out to center field traveled 372 feet. Taylor (351 feet) and Perez (344) each hit shorter home runs.


Magic Number: 2

Nick Madrigal struck out two times for the first time in his career. He now has five strikeouts over his last 35 at-bats. Madrigal had struck out three times in his first 80 at-bats this season.


Glossary

Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average


Poll

Who was the White Sox MVP in their 6-2 loss to the Royals?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Yoán Moncada: 1-for-2, BB, .081 WPA
    (8 votes)
  • 28%
    Leury García: 1-for-2, BB, diving catch in CF, .025 WPA
    (6 votes)
  • 14%
    Tim Anderson: 1-for-3, BB, K, .068 WPA
    (3 votes)
  • 19%
    Yermín Mercedes: 1-for-2, BB, K, .061 WPA
    (4 votes)
21 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who was the White Sox Cold Cat during their 6-2 loss to the Royals?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Lucas Giolito: 6 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, -.349 WPA
    (13 votes)
  • 30%
    Adam Eaton: 0-for-3, 2 K, GIDP, -.140 WPA
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    Yasmani Grandal: 0-for-3, 3 K, -.116 WPA
    (1 vote)
  • 8%
    Nick Madrigal: 0-for-3, 2 K, GIDP, -.099 WPA
    (2 votes)
23 votes total Vote Now

South Side Sox Roll Call

In a 213-comment opener, it was Gameday-aided KP with the comfortable win.


Lurker Laura’s advice for Ano after the early setbacks in the game got the most green, at five recs: