Coming into today, Cheslor Cuthbert had been struggling. Only hitting .216/.298/.284, Cuthbert’s wRC+ of 50 was approaching starting pitcher levels of offense. In fact, just last night, I completed an article with the title “It’s probably time for the Cheslor Cuthbert experiment to end soon.” Cuthbert has been very bad over the past two seasons, much worse than most people probably think.
And while that article may still be posted—Cuthbert is what he is at this point—with two swings of the bat today, Cuthbert powered the Royals offense with a pair of home runs and shelved said article for the immediate future.
Cuthbert’s two home runs powered the Kansas City Royals offense to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The Royals have now won two games in a row for the first time all season.
Backed by a solid start by Ian Kennedy, who allowed only two runs in five innings, Cuthbert’s big day began in the fourth inning. He took White Sox starting pitcher Hector Santiago deep to left field with a solo shot. And then in the very next inning, after Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler knocked back-to-back singles, Cuthbert blasted a three-run homer to the same location as his previous one against relief pitcher Chris Volstad. That dong gave them a 4-2 lead.
However, Oklahoman and barn roof aficionado Brian Flynn immediately did his very best to try to cough the lead back. He never brought his command with him from the bullpen, and so immediately walked Matt Davidson and Trayce Thompson. But a nice double play turned by Mike Moustakas on a grounder by Tim Anderson mostly defused the situation, though Leury Garcia did triple in Thompson to score one run.
Unfortunately for Flynn, a series of unfortunate events led to him indeed coughing up the lead. Flynn hit Jose Abreu with a pitch, who promptly punished Flynn by stealing second base (no, seriously). Nicky Delmonico then doubled Abreu in, tying the game at 4-4. Kevin McCarthy later came in and extracted Flynn from further harm, but the damage had been done.
But perhaps the most 2018 Kansas City Royals thing that could possibly happen happened in the bottom of the seventh inning. Consecutive singles by Moustakas, Perez, and Soler loaded the bases with nobody out. Cuthbert, who already had 4 RBI by this point, softly grounded out in front of the plate after a particularly egregious missed call by the ump. Moustakas was thrown out at the plalte. Then, Jon Jay poked another soft ground ball, and the White Sox threw Perez out at the plate. Finally, Alex Gordon stepped to the plate and watched lefty Luis Avilan toss three consecutive balls. He then watched two strikes go down the center of the plate, fouled off a couple of pitches, and then swung at ball four to complete the strikeout.
However, the Royals did grab the lead back. Bruce Rondon led the eighth inning by hitting Escobar with a pitch. It was on Escobar’s wrist, and it looked brutal; Head Trainer Nick Kenny approved Escobar to run the bases, but Ryan Goins replaced Escobar in the field after the inning concluded. Rondon then uncorked a passed ball, moving Escobar to second base. After Drew Butera fouled out (on a bunt, no less), Merrifield cracked a single to score Escobar and move the Royals ahead to 5-4.
With Kelvin Herrera unavailable after pitching each of the previous three days, Blaine Boyer notched the save. No, seriously. You can look at the box score.
The hellish five-game series against the White Sox has thus ended. Tomorrow, Kansas City will fly to Boston to face the other hosiery-themed team in a three-game set, and then will face the Detroit Tigers for four games back at the K on Thursday. The Royals are 7-20.