Despite an eighth inning rally, the Kansas City Royals dropped the opener on the home stand to the White Sox, 5-3.
For the first time since 2015, World Series champion Johnny Cueto climbed the mound at Kauffman Stadium. Just like he did in the Royals’ remarkable postseason run, Cueto channeled his resonating swagger and dominated. Through the first three innings, he was perfect.
His counterpart, Brad Keller, looked just as smooth in the early-going. It wasn’t until a routine fly ball dropped between Michael A. Taylor and Andrew Benintendi that the right-hander ran into some trouble. Andrew Vaughn opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right field. In the ensuing inning, Yasmani Grandal belted a two-run shot into the right field bullpen to bump the score to 3-0. That score held all the way up until the bottom of the eighth.
With just two hits in the first seven innings, the Royals offense looked destined for yet another shutout loss. However, a spark was ignited off Chicago set-up man Kendall Graveman. Following a lead-off single from Taylor and pinch-hit single by Ryan O’Hearn, Kansas City’s lineup suddenly had a pulse.
Whit Merrifield, who extended his hitting streak earlier in the game, pounded a two-run double off the left field wall to cut the deficit to one. Moments later, Benintendi ripped a game-tying single to right field.
Scott Barlow carved up the White Sox in the top of the ninth — setting up a chance to win it in the home half. Unfortunately, the Royals went down in order.
In extras, Luis Robert blasted a go-ahead, two run homer to left-center off Barlow. In the bottom of the 10th, Kansas City went down without a whimper.
The Royals, 12-21 will play two tomorrow. First pitch in Game 1 is set for 1:10 p.m. CT.