White Sox channel 2015 in loss to Royals
The first battle against the Kansas City Royals felt like 2015 for the Chicago White Sox. A dead offense was met with errors, mental mistakes, and ill-located pitches to continue the deterioration of Chicago’s first place cushion. While the Cleveland Indians are just 1.5 games back, the Royals have also moved into striking distance (3.5 GB) making this series an important measuring stick.
There’s certainly reason to feel good about where the White Sox stand, 8 games over .500 rather than mired in cellar like recent years. The issue is that they’re trending downward as they’re 2-7 in their last nine, which started with that blown ballgame in Texas. In a more aggregate picture, they’ve lost four of their last five series and the match ups aren’t favorable the rest of the way against the defending champs this weekend.
It’s a narrative none of us want the White Sox to fall into but this team is beginning to slide after a helium filled start. The remaining stretch against Kansas City, the Cleveland Indians, and Kansas City again over their next ten games may set a tone for the rest of the year. Let’s hope the White Sox are more immune to adversity than they’ve been over the majority of Ventura’s time at the helm.
Bottom of the 2nd: Melky Cabrera led off the frame with a solid single to left and Brett Lawrie got on via the HBP. There was a little intrigue to the latter because of Kansas City’s history with Lawrie. He brushed it off and Austin Jackson made the Royals pay when he hit a sacrifice fly shortly after an Avila walk loaded the bases. 1-0 White Sox.
Top of the 6th: Jose Quintana was on cruise control until the sixth inning, yielding just one hit over the first five. The trouble started in the sixth with back-to-back doubles by Omar Infante and Paulo Orlando. An Escobar single loaded the bags and Lorenzo Cain cashed in a run with an RBI double near the left field line. After a fielder’s choice, Kendrys Morales singled in Cain and a Perez strikeout would end the scoring threat. The damage was done however, as the Royals led 3-1.
Top of the 7th: Jose Quintana couldn’t get back on track in the seventh, surrounding two quick singles. A sac bunt moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Orlando touched up Zack Putnam with a single, giving Kansas City its fourth run and it would take a sensational play by Jose Abreu to stop the bleeding. 4-1 Kansas City at the 7th inning stretch.
Here’s a defensive gem but also a masterful way to end an inning. In the top of the 7th, the Kansas City Royals loaded the bases with a trio of singles, one of which was more of a mental misplay on Alex Avila‘s part. With only one out and Zack Putnam in the game, Lorenzo Cain stepped to the plate. Cain, already with an RBI, make hard contact the opposite way. Abreu made a great catch and his glove conveniently came down just behind Alcides Escobar to double him off and end the jam.
How about gems, plural. Tyler Saladino was a wizard out at shortstop, and his first highlight came during the Royals’ first at-bat. Alcides Escobar ripped the first pitch into the hole and Saladino made a backhanded pick and proceeded to gun the ball to first to get a speedy Escobar.
In the top of the 5th, Salvador Perez ripped a ball that Saladino made another quick move to his left on. After gloving it, Saladino drifted back and threw off his back leg to just get Perez, who was the victim of an excellent tag by Jose Abreu.
Because all good things come in threes, Saladino robbed Escobar of an RBI in the 6th inning when he used quick reflexes to snag a one-hop liner from going through the hole and in turn prevented an RBI. Although, the runner would score later in the frame.
It wouldn’t be a game against the Kansas City Royals, without them adding to this category. In the bottom of the 7th, the White Sox had something cooking. With Abreu and Eaton on base, Todd Frazier pulled a ball to the left side that Escobar fully extended to steal out of thin air. Adam Eaton was running on contact and was doubled off with ease.
The significant managerial move actually came before the game. Robin Ventura finally shook things up and moved Jose Abreu to the two-hole, much to the praise of White Sox twitter which has been scheming for such a move for months.
Stacking together Adam Eaton, Abreu, Frazier, and Melky seems like an astute way to cluster hits and string together some run production. Anything to jumpstart a recently listless offense is welcomed, and I expect Ventura to continue to toy with this framework until the withdrawal from his addiction of hitting a middle infielder second becomes too much to bear.
Paulo Orlando gets the game ball because he jump started an offense that could do little against Quintana in the early going. Orlando would go 3-for-4, with an RBI double and an RBI single to cement himself as the decisive performer of the game.
Paulo Orlando: 3-for-4, 2 RBIs
Jose Quintana: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Dillon Gee: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Saturday 1:10 PM Chicago White Sox (25-17) vs Kansas City Royals (21-20)
Miguel Gonzalez (0-0 5.17 ERA) vs Danny Duffy (0-0 2.57 ERA)
TV: CSN/MLB Network (Out of market only) Radio: WLS 890 AM