After dropping the first game of what would technically be termed a doubleheader—said first game was the completion of the previous night’s rain-shortened contest—the Kansas City Royals struck early. Alex Gordon drove in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi with a glorious home run to give the Royals an immediate 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Royals’ bats fell silent thereafter, and the Chicago White Sox were able to scrape four runs together to beat the Royals 4-3.
Gordon’s homer was a fantastic one. It leapt off his bat at 104.7 MPH and traveled a solid 411 feet to straightaway center. The home run was Gordon’s ninth on the year. Gordon is on track to eclipse the 25-homer mark for the first time this year. He’s doing that while hitting .275 (the third-best mark in his career) and striking out only 13.9% of the time (by far the best of his career). No matter what happens this year, it’s nice to see the Gordon renaissance.
But Gordon was the entire offense for almost the entire game. White Sox starter Lucas Giolito came into this start with a 2.77 ERA, a 2.81 FIP, and a healthy strikeout rate at 28.5%. Giolito proceeded to dominate the rest of the lineup.
Poor Nicky Lopez bore the brunt of Giolito’s wrath. Lopez, who struck out a paltry 3.6% of the time in Triple-A Omaha, struck out three times tonight. In fairness to Lopez, Giolito was probably the nastiest pitcher he has ever seen so far in his career, and Giolito accrued an even 10 strikeouts total in eight strong innings of work. After the first inning, the Royals got two more baserunner—a Merrifield hit by pitch in the third, and a Cam Gallagher single in the eighth inning.
As for Kansas City pitching, Brad Keller was definitely shaky. The opening day starter gave up 10 hits and a walk in his six innings of work, striking out three. A throwing error by Merrifield in the third inning gifted the White Sox another run, but Keller was clearly the inferior pitcher in this game. That being said, he deserves credit for gutting it out and giving six innings of big league pitching, which you can’t say about most of his teammates in the rotation.
Sometimes, whether you’re a good team or a bad team, you just run into a pitching buzzsaw and have to tip your cap. That happened tonight against Giolito and the White Sox. Yeah, the Royals are hideously bad, but it’s not exactly their fault if the opposing pitcher is clearly feeling it. Sometimes it happen like that.