In the bottom of the first inning, Whit Merrifield walked.
That’s unusual. Merrifield’s career walk rate is 4.9%, his 4.5% mark this season even lower.
After a fielder’s choice groundout by Melky Cabrera, Eric Hosmer walked. Unlike Merrifield’s walk, a Hosmer walk is a relatively common occurrence. He has walked at a 10% clip this season. Still, Hosmer accrues hits three times as often as he walks.
But then Salvador Perez walked. Perez has been at the plate over 3000 times in his seven-year career and has walked only 3.6% of the time. That is astounding.
With control so bad that the walk-averse Kansas City Royals loaded the bases without swinging the bat, you had to know that Chicago White Sox pitcher Dylan Covey would be a little on edge with only one out. Sure enough, Covey eventually grooved a two-seam fastball down the middle of the plate to Brandon Moss, the ninth pitch of the plate appearance. Moss’ swing was violent and the crack of the bat extremely loud, and he quickly deposited the pitch into the fountains for the fourth grand slam of his career.
That four-run homer would provide the Royals the entirety of their offense for the afternoon’s 4-3 victory against the White Sox, one that at times began to seem like the type of brutal loss the Royals have sustained recently before self-correcting.
Kansas City had a leadoff double in the sixth and seventh innings, but neither Hosmer or Alcides Escobar came around to score. Then, in the eighth inning, Cabrera walked, and suddenly the Royals had a leadoff man on for the third consecutive inning. Terrance Gore pinch ran, but as is all too common since his demotion to the minors last season, Gore was thrown out on the basepaths. He is now two for his last six stolen base attempts.
Chicago scraped together a run in the eighth inning, Rob Brantly doubling home Nicky Delmonico, the hit charged to Peter Moylan but the run to Mike Minor. Still, the Royals entered the ninth inning up 4-2.
In the ninth, Scott Alexander attempted his fourth save of the year. It was not an easy one, as two consecutive hits by two right-handed batters (hmm...coincidence?) forced him to sweat. But Alexander shimmied out of the inning by striking out Yoan Moncada, coaxing a popup from Jose Abreu, and inducing a groundout from Matt Davidson.
Sam Gaviglio started for the second time as a Royal today, and he kept Kansas City in it so Alexander and Co. could close it out. Gaviglio tossed five innings, walking none, striking out five, and only giving up two runs on seven hits. It was a nice outing from a man that Royals fans didn’t know existed and who was acquired for a box of moldy cheese and a free oil change coupon to Jiffy Lube.
The Royals are, wait for it, .500 again at 72-72. There are 18 games left, and the Royals are currently 2.5 games back from Minnesota in the Wild Card race somehow.
It could happen! It could also not. Sportsball.