Glenn Sparkman—did I stutter?—tossed a brilliant complete game shutout for the Kansas City Royals against the Chicago White Sox. Sparkman was backed by excellent defense and an extraordinarily productive offense, and it culminated in an 11-0 victory that was one of the most comprehensive games the Royals have played since they were World Series victors.
The only downside to the game was Adalberto Mondesi, who suffered what looked to be a serious shoulder or elbow injury in a diving catch attempt. But it was to the credit of his teammates that the focus remained on the unbelievably fun baseball being played in Kauffman Stadium.
Sparkman was..ahem...electric. His control was sharp, with a fastball that consistently touched 93 and 94 MPH, and his slider was on point. The result? A stymied White Sox lineup. For the first 6.2 innings, Sparkman encountered no resistance. Finally, with two outs in the seventh, a pair of infield singles put Sparkman in the only jam he’d been in all game. But an extremely sharp play by Whit Merrifield at second base prevented a third infield single and got Sparkman out of the inning, and Sparkman came out.
His efficiency allowed him to step back out onto the mound in the eighth inning. And then again in the ninth. After a few outs in the eighth inning, everybody’s thoughts turned towards the potential for a complete game shutout. Sparkman delivered. All in all, he only surrendered five hits—all singles—and walked only one batter against a career-high eight strikeouts.
Unfortunately, Merrifield was only at second because of Mondesi’s injury. In the fifth inning, AJ Reed hit a foul ball, a sinker that sailed towards the no man’s land between Mondesi, Hunter Dozier, and Alex Gordon. Mondesi’s extreme speed helped him run it down, but he was unable to make the catch with his glove hand extended. Unfortunately, he landed hard on the left side of his body, and it was immediately clear that something was very wrong. Mondesi popped up on his tweet relatively quickly, but he walked off the field with a limp left arm cradled by Royals trainer Nick Kenney.
Earlier in the game, though, Mondesi’s speed did wonders. Mondesi singled on a line drive to center field in the first inning, and then advanced to second base after White Sox pitcher Dylan Case uncorked an inaccurate pickoff attempt. Mondesi then attempted a steal of third, but Yoan Moncada didn’t field the throw cleanly (or at all), and Mondesi scampered home.
With the cornucopia of runs scored, this would be a pretty long recap if every one were covered. Over half the starting lineup was on base multiple times, and we saw a little bit of everything—a goddamn Dozier moonshot homer measured off the bat at 106.8 MPH, Mondesi’s aforementioned speed, brilliant starting pitching—but perhaps the best singular moment was Whit Merrifield’s inside-the-park home run. It came in the fourth inning, a line drive to deep right field that rattled around a bit off the wall. Merrifield was originally called out, but a replay revealed that he was very clearly safe, and the call was overturned.
WHEELIN' WHIT.#AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/GU7cUMXuUE— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) July 17, 2019
Assisting the Royals with tonight’s scoring output was, as always, the White Sox and their awful defense. Three errors contributed to the offensive explosion, but if you can’t notch more than six baserunners in a game (with zero extra base hits) you aren’t going to win.
Since the break, the Royals are 4-1 and have looked markedly more focused and, well, better. The Royals now have two chances to win the series with the White Sox, and will then make a trip to Cleveland on Friday.