KANSAS CITY -- Aside from a few good weeks, the White Sox offense has struggled all season.
Friday night wasn’t any different, as the White Sox missed taking advantage of a series of key chances in a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Whether expanding the strike zone or hitting poorly in big situations, the White Sox stranded five runners in scoring position, including the tying runs in the eighth inning even though there were no outs.
The White Sox finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position en route to their sixth loss in eight games.
John Danks earned only his second career loss against Kansas City in 11 decisions as he allowed three runs in six innings.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They pitched tough in these situations and we didn’t get it done.”
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No opportunity was bigger than the eighth inning and a group that -- despite the addition of several key bats in the offseason -- has averaged 3.74 runs per game missed out again.
Trailing by two, the White Sox didn’t produce a run even though any kind of contact likely would have got the job done.
Following a leadoff walk to Tyler Flowers and a ground-rule double by Trayce Thompson, Luke Hochevar struck out Tyler Saladino and Jose Abreu. Lefty Franklin Morales then got Melky Cabrera to fly out to deep right to strand the runners.
Adam LaRoche homered in the ninth inning but Greg Holland struck out Flowers with the tying run at first to close it out.
“We had the big one there in the eighth and had a chance to move it along and score and probably tie it up if it goes right and didn’t get it done,” Ventura said. “Especially with Roachy hitting a home run there in the ninth, you wish you would have got one of them at least.”
One would have been sufficient in any number of spots with runners in scoring position.
Cabrera opened the second inning with a double and moved to third on an Avisail Garcia grounder. But LaRoche’s fly ball to left was too shallow and Alexei Ramirez popped out. After Abreu’s game-tying RBI double in the sixth scored Thompson -- who had the first two hits of his career -- Cabrera flew out and Mike Moustakas robbed Garcia of a potential RBI double.
The White Sox also stranded a runner at second base in the third inning.
None of that helped Danks, who early on appeared to have his Royals magic working yet again. He pitched around a two-out triple in the first inning and breezed through the next two frames, with a series of pop outs in one and all strikeouts in the next. Danks struck out Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning, part of 11 straight he would retire.
Kansas City finally broke through in the fifth inning on a two-out RBI double by Alex Rios. Mike Moustakas, who Danks walked with one out, scored from first on the play as a relay throw by Sanchez forced catcher Flowers to leap and just miss the tag.
Danks got into more trouble in the sixth as Ben Zobrist singled to left and Cain, who tripled in the first inning, doubled into the left-field corner to make it a 2-1 lead. An opposite-field Eric Hosmer single gave the Royals a 3-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Danks walked Kendrys Morales but survived the sixth inning without further damage, stranding two. The left-hander allowed three earned runs and five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in six innings.
“I made a couple of mistakes that I got burned with, but I felt like it was good day,” Danks said. “Just got outpitched by a pretty good pitcher himself. "
“All my stuff is a little better, but I'd say the cutter is more consistent. Just staying down in the zone better. The balls that got up were the ball that hurt me tonight. I just have to be better at that. I feel good about where I'm at.”