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Royals bullpen, offense flounder in 5-1 loss to White Sox


Ed Zurga

The Kansas City Royals, specifically the offense and bullpen, turned in a lackluster performance on Sunday, losing 5-1 to the Chicago White Sox in the series finale.

James Shields had a strong start, only allowing one run on five hits over seven innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked none, looking more like the Shields we watched last season than he did in his first outing.

Shields and Chris Sale each tossed six scoreless frames to start the game before the Chicago jumped on the board in the seventh. Conor Gillaspie cracked a one-out double to right field, then advanced to third on an Avisail Garcia grounder.

Alexei Ramirez drove Gilaspie in with a groundball up the middle that Alcides Escobar could not handle. It would have been a tough throw for Escobar had he made a clean grab, but it would have been nice to see him handle the grounder better.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a 1-2-3 eighth before being replaced by Tim Collins in the ninth. Adam Dunn led off the inning with a single, then Collins walked Dayan Viciedo to put two runners on.

Leury Garcia, who had came in to pinch-run for Dunn, attempted to steal third base after the first out of the inning. Salvador Perez (who had thrown a runner out a second earlier in the game) committed a throwing error on the attempt, allowing Garcia to score. Avisail Garcia ended up drawing a walk after the error, causing Ned Yost to remove Collins.

Francisley Bueno replaced Collins and promptly allowed a RBI-double to Ramirez and a two-run single to Tyler Flowers, giving the White Sox a 5-0 lead.

There's no reason to panic about the Royals bullpen after five games, but...

The Royals offense looked lost against Sale, only putting two runners in scoring position before the ninth inning. Lorenzo Cain had two hits, with Omar Infante and Escobar also collecting singles against the talented southpaw.  Kansas City had zero extra base-hits, and are also the only team in baseball without a HR this season.

Singles by Danny Valencia, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon drove in one run in the bottom of the ninth before Perez grounded into a double play to end the game. Ned Yost also pinch-ran for Butler in the ninth inning, because that second run would have been really important in a five-run game.

The Royals are now 2-3 on the season, and will host the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series starting Monday. Jason Vargas will take the mound for Kansas City in the series opener, squaring off against Matt Moore.