A nice guy I talk to on Twitter during Sox-Royals series said this to me
@JRFegan this should be a good matchup. Davis owns the Sox, Sale owns the Royals.
— Michael Gile (@TurtlesPop) July 28, 2013
And he was right. He was 100% right.
Chris Sale, regular Cy Young candidate, two-time All-Star, owns the Royals like he owns anyone. However, Wade Davis, the worst qualified starter in the majors in terms of ERA heading into Saturday night, owns the White Sox (3 ER in 13 IP coming into Saturday) because everyone does, and led the Royals to 1-0 victory with 7.2 innings of shutout ball.
Seemingly acting out of muscle memory, Sale spun a brilliant nine innings of work that Robin Ventura seemed to never even have a passing thought of pulling him out of. If one started to make an accusation that Sale was off his game since he only complied seven strikeouts, the 12 groundball outs he generated harkened back to the days of the reliever who dominated on the strength of his two-seam fastball.
The only mark against him came in the sixth. After allowing back-to-back singles to Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, Lorenzo Cain slapped a grounder down the third base line for a double that knocked in the only tally of the game. Two-straight easy outs diffused the threat, and Sale only allowed one more hit over the last three innings. He now has 10 losses on the season.
The White Sox offense, on the other hand, can only point their fingers in blame at the Royals outfield defense at why they were unable to cross the plate against a guy fighting for his spot in a less-than-stellar starting rotation. Lorenzo Cain raced down a liner to the warning track in center off the bat of Paul Konerko that looked plenty capable of driving in two runs in the sixth, then crashed into the wall to nab an even more impressive Jeff Keppinger drive to lead off the seventh.
But the moment to be processed over and over for the White Sox fanbase will be the way the offense amazingly managed to sneak out of scoring a run in the ninth inning. Alex Rios led off with a groundball single through the right side, and moved over to second when Adam Dunn worked a walk. In another sad moment in a sad season, Paul Konerko tapped a ball weakly to short, but Dunn kept the opportunity for a sacrifice fly open by brutally crashing into Chris Getz at second.
Alex Rios was evidently not thinking about a sac fly, since when David Lough laid out beautifully and snagged Keppinger’s liner inches before it struck the grass, he was caught between third and home, with no course of action other than to retreat to third.
What was he doing? What did Joe McEwing tell him? Did he hear it?
Rios on failing to tag and score tying run: “To tell you the truth, I don’t think there’s much I could have done.” #whitesox
— Scot Gregor (@scotgregor) July 28, 2013
It certainly doesn’t seem like a moment that Rios was looking to dive into the schematics of after the game.
It doesn’t matter that he cost the Sox the game, since the Sox lose all the time and will dust themselves off, get up and lose tomorrow. What’s specifically ill-timed is Rios becoming a caricature of every bad feeling anyone could have about him at the worst possible time, when the Sox are trying to figure out how he can best serve them.
Conor Gillaspie struck out to end the game. He probably should have started.
Team Record: 40-61
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan