Streaking White Sox hand Royals 5th straight loss
CHICAGO — Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson punctuated his team’s timely offensive attack with a two-run home run in the seventh inning Friday night.
Anderson rounded the bases in typical trot mode, representing one of the few times the surging White Sox weren’t hustling on the basepaths in a 6-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals.
Rookie center fielder Adam Engel tripled and scored twice, including the eventual winning run with a headfirst slide on Yolmer Sanchez’s safety squeeze earlier in the seventh.
“We never quit. We just play hard,” Anderson said. “We go out and leave everything on the table. See what happens.”
The White Sox (45-68) won their fourth straight game, staying hot after sweeping the American League West-leading Houston Astros this week. Chicago rallied after right-hander Reynaldo Lopez delivered six strong innings in his White Sox debut.
Still contending but sliding in a jumbled American League Central and wild-card race, Kansas City (57-58) lost its fifth straight game and fell for the 10th time in 12 games. The Royals dropped under .500 for the first time since July 19.
“Nobody likes to go through these streaks. I mean, they’re no fun by any stretch of the imagination,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “But you also know that this club is capable of getting hot and running off several wins in a row.”
Acquired from the Washington Nationals in a December 2016 trade that sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington and yielded two other pitchers, Lopez kept the Royals in check while scattering two runs and four hits. He struck out three, walked six and threw 68 of his 102 pitches for strikes in a no-decision. The White Sox recalled him from Triple-A Charlotte before the game.
“I feel proud to be here,” Lopez, 23, said. “This is the reward for all the work I’ve put in in my career.”
Remove designated hitter Mike Moustakas from the Kansas City lineup, and Lopez may have fared even better.
Moustakas delivered his third multi-home run game of the season and seventh of his career, hitting solo shots against Lopez in the fourth and sixth innings. Moustakas connected with two strikes on both occasions to increase his team-leading home run total to 34, two away from tying Steve Balboni’s single-season record of 36, set in 1985.
The Royals faced Lopez during a Cactus League game in March, but updated their respective memory banks with video study of his various starts in Charlotte to augment the spring training experience.
Kansas City catcher Drew Butera adjusted his pregame routine given Lopez’s novelty to the American League.
“The guys I’ve faced before, I might look at a little less video,” Butera said. “New guys like Lopez, who we’re facing for the first time, I might watch a little bit more.”
White Sox catcher Kevan Smith touted valuable experience working with Lopez in Charlotte. Smith said Lopez was “fun to catch,” and the aggressive approach the Royals and a crowd of 18,137 witnessed Friday wouldn’t be abandoned.
“He attacks hitters,” Smith said. “You’re going to see him go right after guys. You just have to keep the nerves settled down a little bit and just let him do his thing.”
Anxiety reigned briefly for Lopez and White Sox fans in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Moustakas ended Lopez’s no-hit bit by smacking a solo shot to right center field.
Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert singled on the next pitch before shortstop Alcides Escobar singled one batter later for one of his two hits. A visit from White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper followed, and ultimately helped ease Lopez back to his early form.
A flyout to center field and a foul popout near third base ended Kansas City’s threat.
“The key is just to keep the focus on the game, keep your confidence,” Lopez said. “That was all I did.”
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy lost to the White Sox for the third time this season. Duffy fell to 7-8 after allowing five runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking zero.
Things escalated in the seventh after Duffy settled down in the middle innings, with Chicago punishing some deliveries high in the strike zone.
“It happened really quick,” Duffy said. “I’ve got to be better than that.”
Anderson’s home run came against reliever Peter Moylan.
White Sox left-hander Aaron Bummer (1-2) earned his first major league win, striking out two in two innings of one-hit relief.
The Royals scored on a wild pitch in the ninth inning, but Tyler Clippard recorded the final two outs to earn his third save of the season. Anderson and Engel had two hits apiece, with Engel becoming the first White Sox rookie with two triples in one game since April 1963.
“All victories are satisfying, obviously,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Like I told the guys, I’m more impressed with the way they’re playing the game. They way they’re approaching the at-bats, some of the defensive plays they’re making, the things they’re doing on the bases. If they can maintain that consistency, that’s what gives you a chance for winning ballgames. Obviously, the pitching is a big part of that. We’ve had four pretty good starts and the bullpen, even though we’ve made some changes, they’re doing a nice job of keeping us in ballgames.”
NOTES: White Sox starters are 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in their past four games. ... Royals starters have allowed 24 runs in 22 1/3 innings in the past five games. ... The White Sox recognized Royals RF Melky Cabrera with a video tribute before the second inning. Chicago traded Cabrera, with the White Sox since 2015, to Kansas City on July 30. Fans offered Cabrera a warm ovation when lineups were announced.