Largely thanks to a strong pitching performance and a memorable day for rookie Lenyn Sosa, the White Sox (56-54) managed to split the doubleheader against the Royals (45-66) with a 3-2 win in the nightcap.
The game started with a loud out by AJ Pollock, who barreled up a 97 mph sinker to deep right that was caught by Nate Eaton. After that sharp contact, the White Sox settled back into their predictable pattern of struggling against mediocre right-handed pitchers.
Thankfully, nobody told Lenyn Sosa.
In the top of the third, the rookie stepped up to the plate with nobody on and one out:
Just like that, Sosa had broken the scoreless tie with his first major league home run. This was a no-doubter, as his 428-footer off Royals starter Jonathan Heasley left the bat at 106.1 mph. Congratulations to Sosa for his accomplishment.
Meanwhile, White Sox starter Davis Martin retired the first eight Royals he faced before running into a slight jam in the bottom of the third. Eaton broke up the perfect game through 2 2⁄3 innings with a single, and MJ Melendez walked to keep the inning alive. However, Martin struck out Bobby Witt Jr. on three pitches to avoid trouble.
The Royals finally got on the board against Martin in the fourth. Vinnie Pasquantino, who put Kansas City in front with a two-run homer during the opener of the doubleheader, went to work again — and this time, Pasquantino hit a solo home run to tie the game, 1-1.
The tides turned in Chicago’s favor when Yoán Moncada delivered an excellent sequence from the bottom of the fifth to the top of the sixth. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the fifth, Eaton hit a grounder that was in a difficult location for Moncada. But Moncada fielded the ball cleanly, and made a long, accurate throw to first to retire the side.
Moncada wasted no time building on that nice play in the field. He led off the sixth, and he took advantage of a changeup over the heart of the plate from Heasley.
The White Sox appeared to be positioning themselves to add at least one insurance run when Eloy Jiménez notched his third single of the day. Then, after Yasmani Grandal drew a one-out walk, the White Sox had two runners on base. Despite Andrew Vaughn being available on the bench, Gavin Sheets remained in the game, even though Amir Garrett, a left-handed pitcher, had just replaced Heasley. Sheets flew out to right, and the inning concluded when Leury García (who appears to be fighting through a leg injury) struck out.
Despite the lack of timely hitting and questionable managerial decisions, Martin left the game in line for the win. After the rookie allowed a single following two outs to open the sixth, his evening was complete. Martin’s final line was as follows: 5 2⁄3 innings, one run, three hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. The White Sox will happily accept that line from him every time.
(Martin was the 27th man for this doubleheader, and was returned to Charlotte after the game.)
In the top of the eighth, the White Sox offense added some insurance. Jiménez drew a leadoff walk, and Luis Robert entered the game as a pinch-runner. After José Abreu and Grandal were quickly retired, the White Sox finally got some timely hitting. With Robert still on first, Sheets lined a double down the left-field line. Partially thanks to a fortunate bounce, Robert scored fairly easily to score an important insurance run that made it 3-1.
Jake Diekman, Reynaldo López, and Kendall Graveman combined to be a terrific bridge from Martin to closer Liam Hendriks. Those three middle relievers combined for 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, issuing only one walk, and striking out four.
The ninth inning was not as smooth as Hendriks would have liked it to be. Pasquantino led off with a single that was nicely placed, and just like that, the potential tying run came to the plate. Hunter Dozier lined out to right, but with one out, Hendriks had two wild pitches, so Pasquantino suddenly found himself at third with one out. Nick Pratto narrowly missed a game-tying home run, and he had to settle for a sacrifice fly, and Hendriks struck out Michael A. Taylor to end it.
The White Sox will try to beat Kansas City again tomorrow evening. That game is scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m. Central. The probable starting pitchers are Johnny Cueto and Kris Bubic (yay, a lefty). NBC Sports Chicago will televise the game, and WMVP 1000 AM will have the radio coverage.