Melky Cabrera didn’t completely lift the metaphorical weight off the White Sox collective shoulders, but he did enough to save his team from what would’ve been a disappointing sweep at the hands of the defending World Series champions.
Cabrera’s two-run single in the fifth inning was enough to push the White Sox to a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in front of 34,526 at U.S. Cellular Field Sunday afternoon. His single gave the White Sox their first multi-run inning since last Tuesday and their first game with more than two runs since Wednesday.
The Royals may leave Chicago only one game over .500, but in this weekend’s three game series — in which they won the first two games — Ned Yost’s side played like the one that’s won the American League pennant the last two years.
But White Sox manager Robin Ventura isn’t interested in evaluating his team through the lens of the opposition, even if that opposition is now 27-14 against the White Sox since the start of the 2014 season. Despite losing four series in a row, Ventura is confident — thanks in part to a mug-improved defense — that the White Sox will remain competitive in an American League Central they exit the weekend leading by two and a half games.
“We're a different team as far as our defense,” Ventura said. “And I think that's part of going through it, when you play these good teams, you don't necessarily measure it against them. I think we're good no matter who we're playing, but if we don't kick it around we're pretty good."
Carlos Rodon fired a solid 6 2/3 innings to set the pace for the afternoon, allowing two runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Matt Albers, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson combined to not allow a baserunner in the final 2 1/3 innings.
Pitching and defense, though, haven’t been the biggest problem lately (right fielder Adam Eaton deserves a nod for his spectacular catch in foul territory on the first pitch of the game Sunday). The White Sox offense sputtered to one-run showings in losses Friday and Saturday, and needed Chris Sale’s complete game gem on Thursday to avoid a sweep at the hands of the struggling Houston Astros.
That’s why Cabrera’s two-run single felt like such a big hit. The White Sox hadn’t had a hit with a runner in scoring position all weekend against the Royals until he served a Yordano Ventura quick pitch into center to score Alex Avila and Austin Jackson.
“We needed to win this game,” Cabrera said through a translator.
Todd Frazier also showed signs of breaking out of his mini-slump, poking a solo home run into the right field Bullpen Sports Bar and picking up a single and a walk as well on Sunday. Struggling slugger Jose Abreu got the day off in an effort to get him to hit the reset button on a sub-optimal start to the season.
Things don’t get easier with the second-place Cleveland Indians coming to 35th and Shields for a four-game series starting with Monday’s straight doubleheader. The White Sox need a slumbering offense to wake up for good, and Ventura hoped Cabrera’s hit on Sunday could be the thing to jolt this offense awake.