CHICAGO (AP) Jeff Francoeur hit his first homer of the season, pinch-hitter Johnny Giavotella had a big, two-run double and the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 9-1 on Sunday.Alcides Escobar went 3 for 3 with two walks for Kansas City, which broke it open with six runs in the ninth inning. Francoeur also had an RBI single and made a nice play in right field.Kansas City won for the fourth time in five games despite losing Danny Duffy to an apparent injury in the first inning. The left-hander faced three batters and recorded two outs before he trudged off the mound following a short discussion with manager Ned Yost and a trainer.Luis Mendoza came in and pitched 5 2-3 innings, keeping the Royals in the game while they struggled to score against Philip Humber. Mendoza (2-2) allowed one run and seven hits, struck out four and walked two.Humber broke out of his post-perfect game slump, pitching four-hit ball into the seventh inning, but the White Sox still lost for the fourth time in their last five home games.Humber issued a one-out walk to Escobar in the seventh, but got Humberto Quintero to foul out before he was replaced by left-hander Matt Thornton (1-3) with the White Sox clinging to a 1-0 lead.Jarrod Dyson then walked, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Giavotella followed with a double down the right-field line, giving the Royals the lead with his first hit of the season. The infielder is 1 for 10 in four games since he was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday.Humber struck out seven and walked three in his best start since his gem at Seattle on April 21. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his previous three outings.Francoeur hit a drive to left off Nate Jones in the eighth for his first homer since Sept. 23 at U.S. Cellular Field. He also made a nice sliding catch on Brent Morel's drive to the warning track in the fourth before nearly doubling off Tyler Flowers with a strong throw to first.The White Sox put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth but Kosuke Fukudome struck out and fellow pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski bounced out to end the inning.NOTES: White Sox LHP Chris Sale said he felt fine one day after his first start since May 1. ''Everything went well today,'' he said. Sale was moved to the bullpen because the team was concerned about his sore elbow, but he talked his way back into the rotation after an MRI came back clean. ... Royals 3B Mike Moustakas (sore left hamstring) rested for the second straight day. ''Just one more day,'' Yost said. ''Playing cautious with it.'' ... White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he wants to keep Adam Dunn in the lineup when they face the crosstown Cubs at Wrigley Field next weekend, and he's leaning toward playing the burly slugger in left. ''Plus he'll enjoy the fans out in the outfield,'' Ventura said with a grin. ''He likes to talk. He likes fan interaction.'' ... The Royals open a two-game series at AL West-leading Texas on Monday. LHP Bruce Chen (1-4) is scheduled to face Rangers RHP Scott Feldman (0-0). ... Chicago hosts Detroit in the opener of a two-game series on Monday. White Sox LHP John Danks (2-4) is slated to face LHP Drew Smyly (1-0). ... White Sox reliever Jesse Crain (oblique) threw a scoreless inning in his second rehab appearance with Triple-A Charlotte.
On this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Seth Gruen and Ben Finfer join Chuck Garfien on the panel.
The Bulls win again. Do they dare think playoffs? Vincent Goodwill joins the guys to discuss.
Plus, they debate where the “Minneapolis Miracle” ranks amongst the greatest plays in NFL playoff history and if Tom Ricketts is right to say that Sammy Sosa needs to put everything on the table to rejoin the Cubs family.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:
One of the best things about Cubs Convention is the access fans and media have to the team and the state of mind the players possess in mid-January.
At this point, they’ve had time away from the field to rest and relax with their family and friends and as Anthony Rizzo says “no one is oh for four yet.” While workouts are in full swing, few have started hitting or pitching at this point in their off-season schedule, so “baseball talk” is not always priority. Instead, this is when we get to hear fun stories and entertaining tidbits about these players.
It’s no secret this team genuinely enjoys being around one and other and that the camaraderie is on full display for fans as they interact and poke fun at one and other during the question and answer panels. So, for those that may have missed the weekend’s festivities here are a few humorous things we learned about the Cubs:
- When asked about a celebrity crushes, Anthony Rizzo coaxed Javier Baez into a J-Lo response while Kyle Schwarber weighed out his options before coming up with Katy Perry. That was “until she shaved her hair off and now looks like Eleven from Stranger Things!”
- Schwarber’s name has consumed the recent headlines following his physical transformation this winter, but he isn’t the only Cub who dropped some weight this off-season. Those that got a picture or autograph from Ian Happ over the weekend should have noticed a slimmer physique as well. Happ told me “you have to look and feel your best for your first full season.” And when it comes to all the trade rumors involving his name, he said he’s been too busy golfing and working out this offseason to pay any attention.
- During a one-on-one interview with new Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood, he gave us his best scouting report on himself, “four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, I’ll throw my curveball a lot more. That’s always been my best pitch and I kind of got away from it a little bit, but I’m going to be throwing that a lot more. Cutter and a changeup, too. So, you know, try to trick them with something.” And when asked which Cubs player he’s most interested in meeting, his response was Kris Bryant. “Just watching him it seems like he does everything cool.”
- Addison Russell recalled his favorite memory or most funny moment of 2017 as the exchange with Nacho Man. Bringing Cubs and Cardinals fans together over nacho cheese and selfies. The All-Star shortstop also informed us that if he weren’t playing major league baseball, his fallback would be, a dart player. That’s right.
- After being left off the panel of last year’s Kids Only Press Conference, Anthony Rizzo asked to be the host this year. “It’s my favorite event of the weekend,” Rizzo said. The Cubs first baseman did a tremendous job, toeing the line between appropriate parent/child humor. And after a few minutes of trash talking with Kris Bryant, Rizzo conceded that the younger Bryzzo partner would likely beat him in a one-on-one pickup game. Something I’m sure we’ll see a few weeks from now in Mesa at Spring Training.
- And last, but certainly not least, Willson Contreras stole the weekend as he recalled the best defensive play of 2017 being Jon Lester’s pickoff of Tommy Pham. “I went out there and said hey motherfu**** throw the ball to first.” A moment that left his teammates on stage shaking their heads in disbelief. But our takeaway: the young, fiery catcher is not intimidated working with the veteran lefty, and he’s just the guy you want behind the plate for this experienced rotation.
After an easy going weekend full of laughs and selfies, the players now buckle in and turn their attention to spring training, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa in less than a month.