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Royals 9, White Sox 7: Pratto, Pérez power Kansas City to victory

Gavin Sheets launched two homers, but the pitching staff struggled immensely on Tuesday night

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago White Sox
Providing the pop: Gavin Sheets had two homers to drive in five of the South Siders’ seven runs.
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The slump continued for the White Sox (63-66), who came up short for the 10th time in their last 12 games. This time, it was the hapless Royals (53-77) who beat them to open the three-game series.

The scoring got started in the top of the second, when first baseman Nick Pratto got a 2-1 fastball to his liking and drove it out to right-center. That gave the Royals an early 1-0 lead, and Kansas City was far from done with the long ball. Also, that was only the beginning of an enormous day for Pratto.

In the third, Michael A. Taylor drew a leadoff walk, and two batters later, Salvador Pérez launched his 19th home run of the season. Surprisingly, the 93 mph fastball that Pérez crushed was way off of the plate, but Pérez got great extension and drove the ball out to right. Matters got worse in the fourth, when Pratto built on his terrific performance. This time, he got a hittable slider, and he launched it 375 feet to increase Kansas City’s lead to four.

In the fifth, the Royals continued to pour it on, as Bobby Witt Jr. doubled, and Pérez drove in another run with a single. Pérez made things especially difficult for Giolito that at-bat, as his single was on the eighth pitch of the sequence. On top of that, once again, he got a hit on a pitch that would not have been a strike. Pérez’s single made it 5-0, and the game appeared to be over.

Given Brady Singer’s arsenal and the White Sox’s struggles against right-handed pitchers, rallying was no easy task. The White Sox had opportunities against Singer, and early on, like many other times this season, they failed to capitalize. In the second and third innings, the White Sox put a runner in scoring position with less than two outs but walked away empty-handed.

Still trailing by a score of 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth, however, tides turned for the better. AJ Pollock hit a one-out single, and after Andrew Vaughn struck out, the inning seemed to be going nowhere. But, an unusual sequence occurred: José Abreu singled, and Eloy Jiménez got the White Sox on the board with a single of his own. Then, with two on and the White Sox trailing by four, Gavin Sheets stepped up to the plate.

Singer’s 0-2 sinker was not in a bad location, but it did not matter. Incredibly, even though they had looked dead in the water a few minutes earlier, the White Sox were quite alive.

Unfortunately, the Royals ensured that the positive vibes did not last long. Giolito struck out the first and only batter he faced in the sixth, so his final line was 5 13 innings, five runs (all earned), six hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts.

Up next on the mound was Tanner Banks, and he had the difficult task of facing Pratto. The talented first baseman continued his rampage against White Sox pitching with a single. From there, Michael Massey doubled, and Brent Rooker walked to load the bases with one out. Banks threw a nice curveball to Nicky Lopez that resulted in a shallow line out to center, and all runners had to stay put. But with two outs, Taylor hit a blooper to right-center on a 2-1 slider that Sheets made a valiant attempt at, but came up short. Two runs scored, and the Royals lead was back up to three.

Jimmy Lambert and Jake Diekman teamed up to pitch the seventh, and they could not keep the Royals off of the board. With one out, Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier hit back-to-back singles against Lambert. That set the table for Pratto and prompted a pitching change, as Diekman replaced Lambert. To the surprise of nobody, Pratto gave yet another baseball a good ride. The White Sox caught a small break when it bounced over the wall in left-center for a ground-rule double. As a result, Pratto’s double only scored one run instead of two. Diekman did not allow any more runs, but the deficit was back up to four.

Jiménez collected his third hit of the day and his eighth home run of the season when he crushed a 434-footer. That trimmed the deficit down to three, but ultimately, it was too little, too late.

The Royals tacked on one more run in the eighth, when Taylor took reliever Joe Kelly deep to left. One small consolation is that José Ruiz struck out Pratto with two outs in the ninth to ruin his perfect day at the plate.

In the bottom of the ninth, Abreu gave the White Sox a glimmer of hope with a one-out single. Then, with two outs, Sheets went to work again, as he launched his second home run of the day. That increased his home run total to 12 and OPS to .746, and the score was 9-7. However, the next batter, Elvis Andrus, struck out to end the game. In addition to this loss, the Guardians (68-59) and Twins (67-61) won, so the road to the postseason became even more of a long shot.

This was the first time the White Sox scored at least seven runs in a game since their 8-2 victory over Texas (58-70) on August 7. It just was not enough. Welcome to the 2022 White Sox experience.

The White Sox will get another chance against the Royals tomorrow at 7:10 p.m. Central. Lance Lynn and Kris Bubic are the probable starting pitchers, and as usual, NBC Sports Chicago and WMVP 1000 AM will broadcast the game. We hope to see you then.