The Royals managed just one hit in a 2-0 loss to the White Sox in the series opener on Friday. Chicago starter Michael Kopech dominated the Royals over eight innings, retiring the first 16 hitters of the game, and ending with ten strikeouts and no walks. The Royals sent the minimum number of hitters to the plate in losing their fifth game in seven tries on this road trip.
The White Sox scored the only runs of the game in the second inning off Royals starter Zack Greinke. The White Sox hit four consecutive singles to open the inning, including an RBI single by Gavin Sheets to make it 1-0. Greinke was able to erase one of the baserunners with a heads up play to snag a wild throw from left fielder Nick Pratto and catch Sheets running off second.
Zack Greinke helps his cause with a HUGE heads-up play. So nice it makes him smile. #Royals— Bally Sports Kansas City (@BallySportsKC) May 20, 2023
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Romy Gonzalez would hit a sacrifice fly to plate the second run and make it 2-0 before Greinke struck out Seby Zavala to end the threat. Greinke left after 5 2⁄3 innings pitched with just five hits allowed and no walks, with four strikeouts.
Meanwhile Kopech was carving up Royals hitters all night as they struggled to pick up his high-90s fastball. Kopech has struggled all season and issued six walks in his last outing, but tonight he was on point. Of his 98 pitches, he had 65 strikes including 20 whiffs and 18 called strikes. Michael Massey finally broke up his perfect game bid with one out in the sixth, but he was immediately erased by a Jackie Bradley Jr. groundout double play.
If there was a positive, it was the relief performance by Jackson Kowar. It got off to a shaky start with back-to-back walks and a 3-1 count to Jake Burger. A nice changeup induced a groundball in the hole that Bobby Witt Jr. made a nice play on to get out of the inning. Then Kowar tossed two shutout innings, looking very impressive with a plus change up and three strikeouts.
After Kopech thankfully departed in the ninth, the Royals were still unable to do anything against White Sox closer Kendall Graveman in a 1-2-3 inning. It was the fifth time already this year the Royals have had two hits or fewer in a game - the club record in a season is six, set by the 1970 and 1989 clubs.
The Royals fall to 14-32 and will face the White Sox again tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 CT with Jordan Lyles scheduled to face Lucas Giolito.