In a lot of traditional respects, the White Sox lost a heartbreaker Saturday night. After a thrilling Carlos Rodon start Friday, and Chris Sale set for the finale, they were tantalizingly close to an improbable opportunity to sweep the defending champion Royals, right on the heels of their second series win over a non-Twins AL Central opponent all season.
But instead they got something more rare and special than a victory (even for them!): a James Shields quality start.
1. Oh sure, the Sox stranded the tying runner on third base in the ninth, or since it was Wade Davis cutting Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau to ribbons with 95 mph-plus velocity with tilt, it’s better said their runner got stranded. Davis recovered from a pair of leadoff hits by Tyler Saladino and Adam Eaton to lead off the inning, but struck out Anderson to put the Sox in a position to need another hit to tie. Melky Cabrera‘s one-out bouncer up the middle didn’t look like much, but the perfectly spotted slow chopper brought home Saladino to bring the game to 6-5, and probably would have tied it if Alcides Escobar hadn’t raced to keep it in the infield. But he did, and then Davis got to vaporizin’.
2. And oh, sure, the Sox only found themselves down 6-4 headed into the ninth because of a three-run Royals seventh, launched upon the continued efforts to mine a decent middle reliever out of rookie Chris Beck. The Royals’ dizzying array of second basemen led the charge, as Christian Colon and Whit Merrifield sandwiched hits around a walk to Jarrod Dyson. Merrifield’s two-run double to the left field gap put the Royals ahead 5-4, and Dan Jennings could only do so much to stop the bleeding, as an Eric Hosmer single pushed Merrifield to third and he scored on a groundout
3. And, oh, of course, sure, Shields’ quality start–of the inglorious six innings, three earned runs variety–included four walks (none of which scored, somehow), and a pair of nuked home runs from Hosmer (a two-run towering shot to dead center in the first) and Alex Gordon (a solo bomb to right to lead off the third). But he got through it, somehow, and it’s not just luck or happenstance, because he usually does not make it at all. His second quality start in his last eight outings was carved out Saturday night, and it was work, alright.
4. Saladino served as the White Sox sparkplug for most of his three-hit evening. In addition to scoring the Sox last run, his infield single to lead off the third against Royals starter Edinson Volquez begin a mini-rally. Saladino was erased by an Eaton fielder’s choice, but the Sox leadoff man scooted to third on an Anderson single and scored on a Cabrera groundout. Another fielder’s choice from Omar Narvaez drove in Todd Frazier after a leadoff walk in the fourth, and three-straight two-out hits from Cabrera, Abreu, and Morneau, with Morneau’s capper being a ripped double down the right field line, put the Sox up 4-3 in the fifth. Saladino almost helped the Sox push one across against reliever Matthew Strahm in the next inning. Saladino followed Avisail Garcia‘s leadoff walk by booming a double to center, but it bounced over the wall to keep Garcia at third, and Eaton lined out to short, setting up Kevin McCarthy to come on to strike out Anderson to end the threat.
5. Recent call-up Blake Smith made his major league debut and pitched a scoreless ninth. Good for him.
Team Record: 68-73
Next game is Sunday at 1:10pm CT vs. Kansas City on WGN
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