Nobody said it had to be pretty. And the Royals absolutely took advantage of that this afternoon.
In a game where they blew a save and left a whopping 23 men on base, Kansas City made up for it thanks to a wacky passed ball and some Kyle Isbel extra-inning heroics, beating the White Sox 5-2. It was the Royals’ first road series win of the season and moves the record to 7-10.
A cold and damp Chicago afternoon made for a slow offensive day for both teams. Combine that with the rapidly growing suspicion that something is very different about these baseballs and you had a game where the baseball traveled about as well as a toddler without their tablet.
The Royals got out to a quick lead thanks to a lead off walk by Nicky Lopez and an RBI double from Andrew Benintendi that was placed perfectly down the left field line.
The cold day and a one-run lead was the perfect recipe for Brad Keller on this particular afternoon, who breezed through his first five innings needing just 60 pitches.
Through those five innings, he gave up just two hits and faced the minimum thanks to two double plays, including this nice piece of glove and bubble blowing work by Lopez.
Opposite of him, Michael Kopech labored through his five innings of work. Protecting a one-run lead, he found himself in trouble in his final inning after a Cam Gallagher single and Lopez’s second walk of the day put runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Gallagher moved to third on Whit Merrifield’s fielder’s choice before scoring on a Benintendi sac fly to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.
They threatened again in the 6th, putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, but Gallagher grounded out to end that inning. The White Sox took advantage with a solo shot the next half inning from Leury Garcia to make it a 2-1 game.
The home run was the only blemish on Keller’s day, finishing the day giving up just the one run on three hits. He struck out three and didn’t walk a single batter on only 87 pitches, just the 5th time in his career that he went at least seven innings and didn’t walk a single batter. Through his first four starts, his ERA sits at just 2.19.
Leaving runners on base was a theme for the Royals today and has been a theme so far this season, as the offense allowed Chicago to play with fire all day without making them pay. They did it again in the 8th. After nearly hitting his first home run on a ball that is out in almost every other stadium and then hitting a 106 MPH ground out, Bobby Witt Jr. finally found a hole with a two out single. After stealing second, a Kyle Isbel walk put runners at 2nd and 3rd with two outs and a much needed insurance run sitting on 2nd, but Michael A. Taylor popped out to end the inning.
The masses left on the bases gave the Royals bullpen a razor thin margin, starting with Josh Staumont who replaced Keller in the 8th. He immediately gave up a lead off single to Yasmani Grandal, who was replaced by Josh Harrison on the bases. A wild pitch moved Harrison to 2nd base with nobody out. Missouri State alum Jake Burger then blooped a single into right, putting runners at the corners with nobody out.
The 8th inning was the first time all game that the White Sox had multiple runners on base in the same inning. They immediately took advantage on a sac fly, tying the game at 2-2 and leaving Brad Keller with a no-decision. Reese McGuire hit Staumont’s next pitch about as far as a hitter can hit a pitch without it leaving the yard. This allowed Staumont to escape the inning with the game still tied.
Scott Barlow worked a clean 9th inning to get the Royals into extras. Kansas City loaded up the bases in the 10th, but two brutal strikeouts from Salvador Perez and Bobby Witt Jr. put the White Sox on the cusp of getting out of the inning unscathed. Then good things, albeit wacky, finally happened with runners on base.
Aaron Bummer’s 1-0 pitch to Isbel somehow snuck right through McGuire’s glove, a passed pall allowing the go-ahead run to score before Isbel’s second hit of the game drove in two more runs on the very next pitch, putting the Royals up 5-2.
Taylor Clarke came in for the 10th and slammed the door shut for his 2nd career save. The Royals head back home for a three-game set against the Yankees.
Up Next: Royals v. Yankees, Friday, April 29, 7:10 PM CDT, Kauffman Stadium. LHP Kris Bubic (0-1, 14.14 ERA) v. LHP Nestor Cortes (0-0, 1.15 ERA)