Not that this game was always boring. The White Sox second straight win, getting them to 65-66 and undefeated in September, was interesting early. But when the two bullpens combine for 16 strikeouts, falling a few short of the record for a nine-inning game, your eyes can really glaze over late, especially if, like me, your TV kept freezing on YouTube so you had to stare at a computer for 3 1⁄2 hours.
Stoney and Jason would have been especially a help, though, since the YouTube tandem of Scott Braun and Yonder Alonso was about as insightful as one of those blind men in the old story about the elephant. Alonso was nice enough to play homer guy even more than homer guys, though, even giving the White Sox a 50-50 chance of winning the AAAL Central, which is roughly 10 times the chance all the computer algorithms give them. Very kind.
Still, interim manager Miguel Cairo had an inspirational team meeting before the game, and the team responded.
Johnny Cueto wasn’t particularly sharp, but was good enough. After two easy innings, he gave up a run on a couple of singles, a Gavin Sheets bobble that wasn’t called an error (the Sox managed three of those, anyway — an AJ Pollock strange rainbow of a throw, a José Abreu ground ball miss and a catcher’s interference on Yasmani Grandal — so their position as the worst defense in the league was reinforced nicely), and a fielder’s choice.
The lead only lasted until the bottom of the third, when Leury García and Elvis Andrus managed excuse-me 70 mph singles and Andrew Vaughn found a first-pitch cutter from just-called-up Royals starter Daniel Mengden attractive.
Going, going, Vaughn! pic.twitter.com/c55b58n6SV— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 1, 2022
Mengden has a genuinely major league Rollie Fingers ’stache, but pretty much minor league stuff, which is probably why he spent last season in Korea.
The one run was all the scoring for the Royals, thanks in part to their general ineptitude (yeah, I know they beat the White Sox 10 times this season, I just don’t know how that could happen). They didn’t challenge a play where a García throw appeared to pull José off ofthe bag, which was followed by what would have been an RBI double. They lost a run to bad base-running in the fifth, though two liners right to Romy González, who had a nice defensive game, and Leury helped there. And when K.C. loaded the bases against Cueto and Reynaldo López in the sixth, Nicky Lopez politely decided a pitch about three inches off the ground was a good thing to swing at and grounded out meekly.
The White Sox stretched the lead in the bottom of the sixth against Brad Keller, who usually is a starter. It began with a Sheets walk and a single by Pollock, who had been robbed of a homer by Drew Waters in the second, with Leury next up and apparently tired of all our lack of faith in him.
Tacked on a couple more. pic.twitter.com/qPzLLMrxn0— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 1, 2022
The González single that made it 5-1 led to the really boring stretch. Nine of the next 10 batters — five Sox and four Royals — struck out, to be followed soon thereafter by by five more Ks.
The major break in the inaction came in the bottom of the eighth, when Grandal led off with a weakly-hit but effective opposite-field, ground-rule double, and Pollock got revenge for the earlier theft.
A 2-run blast from AJ Pollock! pic.twitter.com/RJMVVKQoBn— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 1, 2022
Kevin Graveman, Jake Diekman and Matt Foster chalked up two KC whifferoonies apiece, but were outdone by the 10 from the Royals’ relievers. One interesting note, that even Alonso managed to notice — Cairo brought Graveman in for the seventh instead of automatically holding him off for the eighth, because the top of the order was coming up. Creative, intelligent managing — what a novel concept.
One downer — Eloy Jiménez was replaced by Josh Harrison because of an apparent leg injury. How he got that while DHing and never getting on base is a mystery, as is usual for White Sox leg injuries.
The Sox are now through the theoretically easy part of this homestand with only a 2-4 record to show for it. The good news is that with the Twins coming to town tomorrow, they have a chance to close the gap on one of the teams they trail in the division.