CHICAGO – The Kansas City Royals have been a thorn in the White Sox’s quest for the playoffs.
The Royals, playing for pride at this point with the postseason only a wishful thought, haven’t stopped trying to ruin the Sox’s season. Despite the Sox sitting atop the division, Kansas City has become the unsolvable puzzle. The Royals are 7-1 in their past eight games against the Sox and a three-game series in Kansas City still remains. The Royals are making sure the Sox understand that series won’t be a cakewalk.
Sox hitters yet again turned Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie into a Cy Young-caliber pitcher. For the third time this year, Guthrie shut down the Sox, part of a pitchers’ duel, in the a 2-1 10-inning Royals win Sunday.
Guthrie has not allowed an earned run in 232⁄3 innings against the Sox, and this time it ruined a chance for the South Siders to build momentum ahead of their four-game series against Detroit.
“Obviously, you don’t want to lose that series, and I thought we played OK [Sunday],” second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “Guthrie was really good, [and] so were our pitchers. It was one of those days it got away from us. An important series coming up and no rest. We’ve got to come back [today] and do it. We know it’s important.”
The losses to the Royals are frustrating, especially late in the season. But Kansas City seems to bring out the worst in the Sox. They committed five errors in the team’s last meeting, a three-game sweep in Kansas City on Aug. 17 to 19 – and those mistakes were only the ones that showed up in the box score.
Mental errors on the basepaths cost them Sunday leading the Sox to get thrown out three times. Royals left fielder Alex Gordon gunned down Alejandro De Aza at home in the first inning. Right fielder Jeff Francoeur recorded two outfield assists, throwing out A.J. Pierzynski, who got caught in a run down, and nailed pinch runner Alexei Ramirez at third to end the seventh. It negated a runners-on-the-corners opportunity in a scoreless game.
When asked about the the base running issues in another tough loss to Kansas City, manager Robin Ventura said, “We’ll take care of that.”
One of the only positives in the tough loss, left-hander Hector Santiago pitched more like a veteran than a rookie making his second career start. He struck out a career-high eight hitters and allowed three hits in four-plus shutout innings. Limiting walks – he issued three – is Santiago’s main focus moving forward. In his two starts, Santiago has a 1.00 ERA with 14 strikeouts and six walks.
“I have to get deeper into the game and save our bullpen a little more,” Santiago said. “I think I threw well enough to probably get another start, but next time, I have to get early outs.”
Pitching coach Don Cooper said before the game Santiago could make a case to earn at least one more start with a stellar performance against the Royals. That partially hinges on the health of Gavin Floyd, who threw a 50-pitch bullpen session Sunday. Afterward, Floyd said he felt pretty good in the workout, during which he threw all his pitches.
Cooper plans to discuss the Sox’s rotation options and make a decision within the next day or two on when Floyd may return.
“There’s nobody replacing anybody, again we’re not there,” Cooper said before the game. “If Hector goes out there and throws well, he’s throwing good, we’ll have to really wrap our minds around that before we take somebody out who’s throwing well. Again, we’re going to play it by ear ... . We have a lot of options right now, and we’ll weigh them all.”