KANSAS CITY -- The White Sox not only lost another series on Thursday night, they also lost Miguel Gonzalez for at least 15 days.
The starting pitcher said he’s headed for the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin after he exited in the second inning of a 2-1 White Sox loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. A trio of young relievers pitched well in Gonzalez’s absence, but the offense couldn’t solve Danny Duffy as the White Sox dropped to a season-worst six games below. 500. Kansas City took advantage of Duffy’s complete game with two runs scored against Carson Fulmer in the sixth inning to win the rubber match of a three-game set.
“I felt it on the first pitch (of the second inning),” Gonzalez said. “After that, I didn’t have anything to push off with, no strength. I’ve done it before. That was my second time doing it on my right leg. Knowing you can’t have that strength, you can’t go out there and make it worse.”
After an up-and-down start to the season, Gonzalez has been a steady option at the back of the White Sox rotation. The right-hander carried a 2.76 ERA in his last seven starts into Thursday’s finale against Duffy. Gonzalez struck out a pair in a scoreless first inning before he suffered the injury against Salvador Perez.
Gonzalez said he suffered the same injury last season and hopes his absence is limited to 15 days.
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The scenario couldn’t have been any more difficult for the White Sox after the bullpen pitched 6 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s extra innings loss. But Michael Ynoa, Fulmer and Tommy Kahnle responded with seven sharp innings on short notice.
Ynoa got off to a rough start as he hit Perez with his first pitch and Alcides Escobar reached on an error. But Ynoa, who has shown nice flashes since he was promoted in mid-June, followed up with his strongest stretch to date. After a sac bunt moved them over, Ynoa stranded the two runners in scoring position as he ended the bottom of the second inning with a strikeout of Raul Mondesi.
The tall right-hander also set down the side in order in the second and third innings, striking out Eric Hosmer and Perez in the fourth. Ynoa didn’t walk any batters or surrender a hit in a 43-pitch effort.
Fulmer continued the string of dominance when he struck out a pair in a perfect fifth inning. The Royals scored twice to rally from a 1-0 deficit when Fulmer issued a leadoff walk in the sixth. Cheslor Cuthbert tied it with a one-out RBI triple and Eric Hosmer singled him in. But Fulmer retired four of the last five he faced, striking out three in three innings.
Kahnle struck out the side in a scoreless inning, too.
“They did a great job,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They knew they had a long way to go tonight. Michael did a nice job spur of the moment, so did Carson.”
The offense wasn’t up to the task against Duffy, who needed 98 pitches for the complete-game effort.
Duffy retired the last 11 batters he faced and only got into trouble in the second inning. That’s when he surrendered three straight two-out hits, the last an RBI single by Jason Coats. But Duffy retired Adam Eaton to end the rally and limit the damage to a run.
Duffy allowed seven hits in all and never let the White Sox have more than one runner reach base in any other frame. Down a run, third baseman Todd Frazier just missed on a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning, flying out to deep left.
A night after the White Sox went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, stranding a pair of runners five times in a 3-2 loss, Duffy limited their opportunities. The White Sox scored three runs over their final 23 innings at Kauffman Stadium and lost a winnable series.
“They did a heck of a job,” Frazier said of the bullpen. “I’m proud of them. You know, it’s good to see that. Ynoa came in and pitched three innings and did his job. Carson gave up two runs there, but at the same time he pitched well. You give up two runs, you gotta win the game. It doesn’t matter who is pitching. We did it yesterday, too. You have to find a way to tack on.”