KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miguel Gonzalez continues to look like he could be a valuable member of the White Sox rotation next season.
Gonzalez made his 10th quality start in 11 tries on Saturday night, but the White Sox offense couldn’t solve the Kansas City Royals’ Jason Vargas/Dylan Gee combination in a 3-2 loss in front of 34,805 at Kauffman Stadium. Vargas and Gee combined to allow two runs in 7 1/3 innings and outpitch Gonzalez, who has a 2.70 ERA dating back to July 1. Catcher Kevan Smith recorded his first major league hit when he singled in the fifth inning in the losing effort.
“Nothing you can do,” Gonzalez said. “It’s part of the game. It’s a game of inches. I made some good pitches. Really the fifth inning was the one that got me. I got a little tired, had to work a little bit more. Smitty did a really good job back there, I’m really happy for him, he got his first hit in the big leagues.”
Signed at the last minute for depth, Gonzalez has been anything but over the past 2 1/2 months. The addition of the cut-fastball has helped Gonzalez get inside on left-handed hitters more easily and makes him a viable option for the White Sox going forward.
Kansas City still did get to Gonzalez for three runs, including a pair in the decisive fifth inning. Alcides Escobar tripled to right to start the inning and scored on Hunter Dozier’s single to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Eric Hosmer also singled in a run to put his team ahead by two.
But that was all Gonzalez would surrender in a 104-pitch effort. He allowed three earned runs and six hits in seven innings.
The only outing by Gonzalez since July 1 that wasn’t a quality start was on Aug. 11 when he left a start after only one inning with an injury.
The White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Melky Cabrera RBI single to center off Vargas, who pitched for the first time all season. Avisail Garcia appeared to have the White Sox in line for more, but Whit Merrifield made a diving stop on a two-out grounder to prevent a run-scoring hit and end the inning.
“We had opportunities,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That was a nice play up the middle. We had something rolling there. You would like to get a little more out of it, but defensively they are pretty good. That kid plays all over the place and he does a pretty good job.”
The White Sox wouldn’t mount another threat until the eighth inning. Two one-out singles knocked Gee out of the game and Joakim Soria took over. Garcia’s one-hopper with two outs took a strange bounce off third base and went for an RBI double as the White Sox got to within a run. But Soria retired pinch hitter J.B. Shuck on a grounder to short to strand the tying and go-ahead runs.
Wade Davis pitched a perfect ninth inning to close it out for the Royals.