The Royals beat the White Sox, 7-1, on Wednesday evening, taking the rubber match of their three-game set and concluding the season series with a 7-6 record against the Pale Hose.
The White Sox are the only American League team against whom Kansas City will finish with a winning record, with a three-game sweep of the Mets constituting the only other advantage they have over a team this year.
I am really tired of writing Michael Massey’s name into these recaps. The 25-year-old local product has played at replacement level this season according to most metrics, but he put a bow on his Barry Bonds act against the White Sox with his sixth homer of the year, a two-run blast in the second inning to open the scoring.
The second baseman finishes the campaign with six home runs and 14 runs driven in in 13 games against the White Sox, boosting him to an Ohtani-esque .300/.348/.800 triple-slash line. That 1.148 OPS is second among all players who took at least 30 PAs against the Sox this year, behind only Ohtani himself. At this rate, Massey will be the White Sox starting 2B by 2026.
That was more or less the only action the game saw for quite some time, as Kansas City scattered hits without doing much else, while the Sox offense couldn’t even be bothered to do that much, putting up just three hits through six innings of ball against Steven Ruiz and Alec Marsh, who picked up his first big league win in 14 tries as a starter or bulk reliever this year. It remained a competitive game until the top half of the seventh, when the 2-0 lead turned 5-0 in a sequence that sums up the 2023 bullpen quite nicely: Aaron Bummer put a couple of runners on thanks to a lack of control and was lifted for Lane Ramsey, who both walked a hitter of his own and couldn’t miss enough bats to prevent any of those baserunners from turning into runs scored.
But hey, the White Sox got one back, yes they did! Yoán Moncada continued to enjoy his newfound health with a double to lead off the Sox half of the seventh, and after moving to third base on an infield single from Andrew Vaughn, came in to score courtesy of Yasmani Grandal.
For a moment, it looked as if the Sox might try a repeat of yesterday night’s comeback action, with Marsh clearly out of gas and Matt Quatraro slow to activate the Royals bullpen. Unfortunately, he managed to punch out Gavin Sheets, and Elvis Andrus grounded into an inning-ending double play shortly thereafter. Ah well, nevertheless.
Sammy Peralta picked up the rest of the slack for the Sox bullpen, finishing off the game with 2 1⁄3 innings in his first action with the team in more than a week, allowing two more runs in the top of the ninth on a walk-double-single sequence from Kyle Isbel, Nick Loftin, and Bobby Witt Jr.
Tucker Davidson came on to finish the job for the Royals.
The Sox remain in town for a weekend series with the Twins, who arrive in town for another 6:40 p.m. start time tomorrow evening. Kenta Maeda takes the ball for the Twins as they try to wrap up an AL Central crown, while Pedro Grifol counters with José Ureña, who is, apparently, now a starting pitcher for the White Sox.
Six Pack of Stats
That Gavin Sheets strikeout in the seventh was the highest-pressure moment of the game with a 2.17 LI.
Naturally, Sheets bore the biggest cumulative pressure load of anyone in this contest, running a 1.77 pLI.
Massey strikes again: His two-run blast to open the scoring added 16.9% to the Royals’ win probability.
The rest of Massey’s night was relatively quiet, leaving Alec Marsh’s cumulative 17.7% WPA as the highest of the game.
Yasmani Grandal’s early-game single against Steven Cruz left the bat at a game-high 106 mph.
Edward Olivares’ tapped infield single in the second inning was just 57.3 mph.
Sadly, Nick Loftin’s game-breaking single in the seventh had just a .130 xBA.
Luis Robert Jr. hit a line drive straight at the shortstop that was caught despite a .660 xBA.
Andrew Benintendi skied an automatic double to dead center field that landed a game-high 390 feet from home.
Magic Number: 7
Elvis Andrus is now the seventh player since 2009 to play at least 50 games in a season at second base for the White Sox, joining Chris Getz, Gordon Beckham, Yolmer Sánchez, Brett Lawrie, Yoán Moncada, and Josh Harrison. Not a single one of those players put up a league-average OPS. The last league-average second baseman to play for the White Sox was a rookie and out-of-position Alexei Ramírez in 2008.
CSW called strikes plus whiffs
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