Whatever slim chances the Royals had of reaching the post-season may have slammed shut on Wednesday as the Royals dropped a frustrating game to the White Sox 5-3. Lucas Giolito shut down the Royals offense for much of the day, as Ned Yost had to scramble to put out a depleted pitching staff to eke out a win. Ultimately, the Royals gave themselves a chance to win late, but costly mistakes ended their chances.
The White Sox got on the board first off starter Eric Skoglund. Adam Engel - a .218 hitter in AAA (he’s hitting .186 in 276 MLB plate appearances going into today) drove home two with a double in the second inning. Tyler Saladino added another run in the third with an RBI single, with Skoglund exiting after just three innings of work, down 3-0.
Kevin McCarthy did a great job keeping the Royals in the game by giving them three shutout innings of relief. He allowed the Royals to climb back into the ballgame, which they did starting in the sixth inning, when Salvador Perez hit his 25th home run. It was his 22nd home run as a catcher, breaking the club record for most home runs from that position. Salvy’s solo blast made it 3-1, White Sox.
The Royals loaded the bases in the seventh, but the White Sox brought in Aaron Bummer, and it was Melky Cabrera and Eric Hosmer saying “bummer” after they were retired to end the threat.
In the eighth, Salvy led off with a single, bringing Mike Moustakas to the plate. Moose has been sitting on #36, the club record for home runs, since September 1. But he showed why he hasn’t been able to break the record, running gingerly earlier in the game, then looking awful in a strikeout in the eighth. Brandon Moss singled, and Alcides Escobar followed up with an RBI single to score Salvy to make it a one-run game.
Terrance Gore came in to pinch-run for Moss and showed why he is an asset by stealing third. An Alex Gordon ground out was enough to score Gore to tie the game 3-3. After Whit Merrifield was hit by a pitch, the Royals had two on for one of their best hitters, Lorenzo Cain. Inexplicably, Alcides Escobar tried to steal third - which would have barely improved the Royals’ chances of scoring a run - and was caught doing so, ending the inning.
Scott Alexander was reportedly unavailable today, according to Ned Yost, but was brought in anyway for a 3-3 tie-game in the ninth. He gave up a single to Tim Anderson and a walk to Yoan Moncada with one out. Anderson did what Escobar couldn’t - steal third successfully, and Jose Abreu got him home with a sacrifice fly to give the White Sox the lead. The White Sox would tack on another run before we saw the Royals debut of local kid Mike Morin, with the home team down 5-3.
Lorenzo Cain, Melky Cabrera, and Eric Hosmer went down quietly in the ninth against someone named Juan Minaya to drop the Royals below .500 at 72-73. They are now 3.5 games back of a playoff spot with 17 games to play. If you were hoping for a miracle, it looks like they are being reserved for things like bringing kids back from cancer, or rescuing people from life-threatening hurricanes, not on bringing the Royals to another post-season.