Don't look now, but the Kansas City Royals have won five straight, and are nearly halfway to reaching the coveted 15-5 mark after the All-Star break with their 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox Saturday night,
Wade Davis pitched one of his better games this season, as he shutout Chicago for 7 1/3 innings. Davis surrendered four hits and three walks, striking out four.
Despite the shutout, Davis did not look particularly dominant. The right-hander did look more efficient, as he threw 101 pitches, 61 for strikes. Facing an inept White Sox offense helped, but Davis deserves credit for giving the Royals a strong pitching performance.
The Kansas City defense also helped, as the team made a number of impressive defensive plays behind the starter. Lorenzo Cain made a number of great catches, including this one in the seventh inning robbing Jeff Keppinger of extra bases.
Cain has played absolutely spectacular defense in centerfield this season, and shows no sign of slowing down. Alcides Escobar made a couple of nice throws in the field as well, but the biggest defensive play of the game belonged to rightfielder David Lough.
Lough's play came in the bottom of the ninth inning. Alex Rios hit a leadoff single against Greg Holland, then Adam Dunn followed with a walk. Rios advanced to third on a Paul Konerko fielder's choice. That brought Keppinger to the plate, who hit a sinking line drive to right field.
The rookie made a great diving grab on the flyball, and Rios did not tag up on the play:
It was not an easy read for Rios, but he should have broken back to the bag instead of down the line. Lough would not have thrown him out if he tagged up; Rios is a good baserunner, and Lough had no momentum on his throw. Holland recovered to strike out Connor Gillaspie to end the game.
The offense did not look impressive against Chris Sale, which is not particularly surprising. Cain plated the Royals only run, driving in Eric Hosmer with a groundball double that slipped past Keppinger at third base. A better defensive play by Keppiner and a worse won by Lough, and it's easy to imagine the score in this game being flipped.
Billy Butler and Hosmer each had a pair of singles, but the rest of the team only mustered two hits. Sale tossed a complete game, striking out seven while walking one.
The Royals improved to 50-51 on the year with the win. The team has a chance to get back to .500 Sunday when Bruce Chen will face Hector Santiago at U.S. Cellular Field.