White Sox 3, Royals 2: Deprived Offense Saved by Keuchel and the Bullpen

The White Sox snagged a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday, marking the first time the Sox have tallied back-to-back wins so far in 2020. It wasn’t pretty, but the Chi Sox got the job done and moved to 3-4 early on the campaign, as the Royals drop to 3-5.

The day began with the exciting news that the White Sox had purchased the contract of Nick Madrigal, the fourth overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft, and that he would be batting ninth and starting at second base for the opener of a three-game set in Kansas City.

The Sox also designated Kelvin Herrera for assignment in a corresponding move, another exciting move seeing the front office not tread lightly on removing a declining player from a contending team. With both of those moves heading into Friday’s game, along with Dallas Keuchel‘s second start on the horizon, the 7:05 pm start time could not arrive soon enough. However, a quick and gritty game was what the fans would witness.

Kris Bubic, making his MLB debut, struggled early by allowing a quick double and walk to Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada right out of the gate, offering an early scoring chance for the Pale Hose. But, following a rocket double-play ball off the bat of Jose Abreu and a strikeout of Yasmani Grandal, the rookie was out of trouble. Keuchel responded with a quick 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half, and the White Sox would get on the board shortly after.

After an error by Royals’ second baseman Nicky Lopez, a hustled out fielder’s choice by Luis Robert to avoid a double play, and a headshot hit-by-pitch for James McCann, the biggest offensive surprise in the preliminary stages of this season came up huge. Adam Engel drove a two-strike changeup into the left-field bullpen for a 3-run home run that put the Sox up 3-0, and that would be all the offense the White Sox would get. With Keuchel and the fiery hot bullpen, that would be all they would need.

Keuchel would face some adversity in the 3rd inning, as two infield singles and a soft line drive into left field off the bat of Salvador Perez would plate the first run for the Royals. Keuchel would also allow another run later in sixth, as Ryan McBroom would find the left-center field seats with a solo home run to cut the White Sox lead to just one run. But, other than those two blips, Keuchel grinded through another good start for the Southsiders. He went 5.1 IP while allowing 2 ER on 7 hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Keuchel was able to keep his ground ball rhythm rolling, as he induced 10 ground ball outs over the 16 outs he recorded. Most importantly for his start, the veteran lefty was able to get a lead to the ridiculously en Fuego White Sox bullpen.

First, enter Jimmy Cordero, aka Jimmy Biceps, who came in during the 6th inning and allowed a hit and a hit by pitch over his 1.2 IP while striking out 3 and keeping the Sox ahead. Cordero was followed by Evan Marshall, who was, simply put, filthy again. He began a flawless 8th inning with a strikeout of McBroom and completed the inning with two weak outs off the bats of Alex Gordon and Franchy Cordero. With all of the arms in the bullpen and some silly pitches those great arms have, Marshall’s changeup might be the nastiest of all. He continually threw the pitch throughout the 8th, as he has been all season, and the Royals’ hitters seemingly had no chance.

To finish it off, Renteria once again turned to Alex Colome, whose performance on Wednesday in Cleveland was less than inspiring. Tonight, he was on. He won a long battle with pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn after Jose Abreu made a nice sliding play along the first base line. He followed that with a nice barehanded play on a Whit Merrifield bunt to keep his speed off of the base paths, and then struck out the speedy Aldaberto Mondesi on a high fastball to send the Royals home with a sour taste.

The White Sox finished the game with only four hits, and Dallas Keuchel was definitely not on his A-game, but in a 60 game season, a win is a win. The 20 games the Sox will play against the Royals and Tigers will be the determining factor on whether they make the expanded postseason or not, and by starting off 1-0 in those games, they have put themselves in the right direction for the rest of this weekend and hopefully, for the rest of the sprint.

A developing note late in the game came with Leury Garcia pinch-hitting for Tim Anderson in the 8th inning, and it was soon reported by the White Sox that Anderson had left the game due to right hip soreness. There has been little word yet on whether he will be back in the lineup on Saturday.


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