It was probably very fortunate — at least for the opener — that today’s opponent is the Kansas City Royals. White Sox pitchers mostly didn’t look sharp, but the Royals are really, really bad offensively, so they went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base and another one wondering why the heck he was sent home when the ball was almost there already.
On the offensive side, the White Sox were only 1-for-7 with RISP, but they made the most of their fifth-inning opportunity. Condensed down:
Abreu had a single and a walk to go with that two-RBI double, so maybe he’s coming out of his slump.
José probably wouldn’t normally have had a chance to get the double off of KC starter Jonathan Heasley were this not the opener of a twin bill. Heasley had been having by far the best performance of his five-game career, but obviously was out of gas in the fifth when he gave up a double to Reese McGuire, walked Josh Harrison, wild pitched them up a base, and hit Tim Anderson.
Mike Matheny left him in anyway.
That decision by Matheny was strange, but not the oddest by the Royals coaching staff. In the bottom of the fourth third base coach Vance Wilson inexplicably sent Hunter Dozier home from first on a Kyle Isbel single to center, even though Leury García was already holding the ball at second base when Dozier hit third. That gave Leury the chance for one of his three nice assists on the day.
Otherwise, Dylan Cease mostly rolled through 5 2⁄3 innings, even though the first batter got on in four of the first five, and there was at least one baserunner every inning. Chalking up nine K’s helped offset that.
Oddly, the one thing that Kansas City doesn’t usually do badly is strike out a lot, and they did it 14 times against Cease and four relievers. While some of that was nice pitching, a whole bunch was flailing at bad pitches, often ball fours.
That happened against Joe Kelly, who once again showed that the $17 million could have been better spent. Kelly started the seventh giving up a double to Nicky Lopez, who was 3-for-3 with a walk, then walking Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi.
Matheny then made what appeared another bizarre move, sending .132 hitter Carlos Santana in to pinch-hit for Salvador Perez, but it turned out Perez had a thumb injury he somehow got while DHing. Santana whiffed on a ball outside. That brought up Ryan O’Hearn, hitting .171 this year and .215 lifetime, but — another Matheny “huh?” — hitting cleanup. He naturally struck out, naturally on a bad pitch.
That set the big pressure moment for Dozier, who decided against accepting a walk that would have driven in a run and kept the inning going, and instead swung at a pitch way inside on a 3-1 count and popped up.
That was essentially the game. Nice of them to help Kelly out like that.
The win puts the White Sox better than .500, at 18-17, as they stay undefeated in the Johnny Cueto Era. The nightcap is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. Central, with the Sox handing the ball to 25-year old righty Davis Martin, making his major league debut.
If they hurry, they might get the game in. Big storms are heading to Kansas City, but the radar as of 5 p.m. shows the bad stuff not arriving until after 9 p.m.