KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals are living the charmed life and the White Sox aren’t.
Part of the Royals’ luxurious existence, one that has afforded them an 11-game lead in the American League Central, is their dominance of the White Sox this season. Some it is has been good fortune.
On Sunday afternoon, the White Sox saw a convergence of both in the eighth inning as they dropped a 5-4 decision to Kansas City, their 10th loss in 13 tries against their divisional foe in 2015. With a one-run victory in each game, the Royals swept the White Sox, who have lost eight of their past 10.
“It’s always tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You see opportunities you have -- we’ve had some guys on third base, haven’t been able to get them in, and they all add up.”
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This series was all about a very good team that added Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto at the trade deadline taking advantage of a squad that has middle at its best the entire season.
Sure, Kansas City benefitted from a series of nice bounces each of the last two days.
But they also put themselves in the correct position to receive that good luck and they have done so all season, especially this weekend.
With the score tied at 4 and one out in the eighth, Jake Petricka put himself and the White Sox in a difficult spot as Alex Rios singled and Paulo Orlando hit a ground-rule double to left center. And then, even though the White Sox had the infield drawn in and Petricka got his 2-seamer in on the hands and Jose Abreu made a nice play, the Royals still managed to take a 5-4 lead.
Omar Infante got enough of Petricka’s pitch to place it in the right spot where even though Abreu made a nice barehanded stop he couldn’t make an accurate enough throw to cut down Rios, who made a nice read and slide home.
It was the kind of play where “if everything went perfect” the White Sox would have kept the score tied. But it hasn’t been that kind of season for the White Sox, who dropped to seven games below the .500 mark. The Royals have won five of six one-run games against the White Sox in 2015.
“The team that puts the ball in play gets breaks like that,” Petricka said. “Hats off to a team that just fights like that.
“They play hard every game. We were playing just as hard, we just didn’t get the break this time. You can always say you missed an opportunity, but it’s just a break one way or another. We got ourselves into situations, they got lucky and got out of them. We just kind of missed one break.”
The White Sox didn’t answer back in the ninth against Ryan Madson and dropped 14 1/2 back of the AL Central leaders.
A series sweep looked like a mere formality after the first inning as Kansas City scored three times against Jose Quintana, including two on a homer by Kendrys Morales. But Quintana battled through and found his form, lasting into the seventh inning. Quintana allowed four earned runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
“It was hard,” Quintana said. “We played the first-place team in the division and tried to get wins, but all three games were for one run. It’s hard, but we need to come back.”
The White Sox tied the game in the bottom of the eighth against Kelvin Herrera on a two-out RBI single by Melky Cabrera. They earlier rallied from a 3-0 deficit against Danny Duffy, who lasted 3 1/3 innings. Gordon Beckham had an RBI single and Alexei Ramirez singled in two more in a third-inning rally.
But the White Sox missed out on several earlier opportunities, too. They had runners on the corners and one out in the fourth but Kris Medlen struck out Tyler Flowers and got Beckham to fly out. Adam Eaton, who scored the tying run after he doubled to start the eighth inning, drew a leadoff walk against Medlen in the fifth but was picked off first base. A night earlier, Geovany Soto was picked off second base with a full count and Abreu at the plate. The White Sox rallied back on Saturday too but came up empty.
“These guys are grinding,” Ventura said. “They’re not laying down. They continue to battle back. … We just didn’t get it done.”