Back in the game thread, it was mentioned that Jeff Samardzija is the prototypical pitcher that Kansas City loves to face, and that belief held true as the Royals touched him up for seven runs en route to a 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox Saturday night.
The first two innings had the makings of an also-ran pitcher's duel, as both hurlers managed to keep the offense at bay. Jeremy Guthrie ran into trouble in the third, after Alexei Ramirez led off the inning with a double. The White Sox decided to play for one run against the pitcher whose ERA was 5.65 at the start of the contest, which ended up being a bad move as the runner was stranded at third.
In the fourth, though, they broke through. Jose Abreu launched an offering into center field for a home run, his 20th of the season. Melky Cabrera followed with a double and Avisail Garcia moved him to third with a single. Adam LaRoche grounded into a double play to bring the run in, giving the White Sox an early advantage.
Kansas City responded in the bottom half with vintage Royals baseball. Alcides Escobar led off with a single, then Mike Moustakas drew a walk. Lorenzo Cain also walked, loading the bases. Eric Hosmer then grounded into a fielder's choice, beating out the double play to score Escobar. Kendrys Morales then grounded out, scoring Mike Moustakas. Salvador Perez followed with an opposite field single to score Hosmer and give the Royals the lead.
The fifth was no better for Samardzija. Jarrod Dyson led off with a triple. Following an Escobar hit by pitch, Moustakas hit a sacrifice fly to score Dyson, moving Escobar up to second. Cain singled to right which brought him in. Morales doubled to score Cain, and then Perez continued his offensive renaissance by hitting a double of his own to score Morales, giving the Royals the 7-2 advantage.
However, Guthrie was not about to let the Royals cruise to a victory. Abreu led off with his second home run of the game, and a litany of singles and walks followed to score three more runs, cutting the lead to a solitary run. Along the way, Luke Hochevar relieved Guthrie, giving up a walk and a single that scored two inherited runners.
From there, the battle of the bullpens predictably went the way of Kansas City, as Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera yielded one walk over their two innings, bringing the Dutchman in to close out the game.
And Greg Holland was mean. As mean as he has been all season. He struck out the side, getting Abreu looking to end the game and securing the series victory for Kansas City. Jeremy Guthrie also "earned" his eighth victory, yielding ten hits and six runs in 5.2 innings with a walk and one strikeout. His ERA on the season is now 5.84.
Tomorrow, the Czar of Gnar toes the rubber for the Royals, as Danny Duffy (5-5, 4.04 ERA) looks to secure the sweep for Kansas City against Jose Quintana (6-9, 3.50).