KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Single, RBI double, walk, sacrifice fly. That was the response from the heart of White Sox batting order after the Royals’ first rally Saturday.
The Royals’ bats were hot, but the White Sox offense made sure Kansas City never led.
“To me, that was one of our more impressive game in that way,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “… They don’t get discouraged; they keep playing. It’s a championship trait.”
In a 10-7 win Saturday at Kansas City, the White Sox recorded 15 hits, even without Yoán Moncada or Tim Anderson in the lineup. Of those, 10 came from batters No. 2, 3 and 5 in the lineup: Luis Robert, José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal.
When the offense had significant absences due to injury, the White Sox’ starting pitching lifted the team. Now that Robert, Eloy Jiménez and Grandal are back in the lineup, they’re returning the favor with starters Lance Lynn (right knee inflammation) and Lucas Giolito (left hamstring strain) on the 10-day injured list.
Saturday marked the 15th time this season, and fourth time in the past eight games, that the White Sox scored in the double digits.
“Just keep playing, just keep focusing,” White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino told NBC Sorts Chicago when asked what he’d like to see from his offense in the last month of the regular season. “Treat every day like it's the playoffs. And that's what we've been trying to do the whole year.”
Moncada got the day off Saturday, White Sox manager Tony La Russa said, to avoid aggravating an old wrist injury. The Royals started left-hander Daniel Lynch, and switch-hitting Moncada’s right-handed swing puts more stress on the wrist he “tweaked.” Moncada is on a career-high 17-game hitting streak.
With Moncada out, rookie Romy González played third base in his first MLB start, batting leadoff. Though he’s still looking for his first hit, González recorded his first career RBI, chopping a groundout to the left side of the infield to score Leury García in the fifth inning.
Now, imagine this lineup with Moncada and Anderson, who is on the 10-day IL with a left hamstring strain, also in it as the White Sox make their final playoff push.
On Saturday, the White Sox’ bats rebounded from a 7-2 loss the night before to overcome another strong offensive showing from the Royals.
White Sox right-hander Reynaldo López filled in for Lynn. He threw four innings, all scoreless except for the third, when he allowed three runs. Michael Kopech relieved him and allowed another four runs. But the White Sox kept scoring.
"We feed off each other,” Grandal said. “We're definitely hunting out there, making sure that whenever we get into a situation, we keep riding that wave as high as we can, so we can make the inning as long as we can. We've seen that every time we do that, good things happen. It doesn't matter if we're down by six or up by six, our mentality is to attack and make the pitcher work.”
The best example of the La Russa-dubbed “championship trait” came in the fourth inning, after the Royals had cut the White Sox’ six-run lead in half the frame prior. Salvador Perez had done the heavy lifting for the Royals that inning, hitting a two-run home run, his first of two multi-run homers in the game.
Robert, who logged a four-hit game for the second time in his career, smoked a comebacker for a one-out single, moving Danny Mendick to third. Then, Abreu hit a line drive to the center field warning track, logging his 500th career extra-base hit, and driving in a run. Jiménez walked. Grandal hit a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing Robert across the plate.
In that sequence, the White Sox restored their three-run lead to five.
“They had so much momentum with those two clutch home runs (from Perez),” La Russa said. “But our guys kept cranking out at-bats. The kind of guts they’ve shown all season.”