White Sox

White Sox rock Royals with 8-run 1st-inning massacre

White Sox

The Kansas City Royals came to the ballpark on Saturday and were greeted with the utmost disrespect.

It should be noted that the White Sox are a top-two offensive team in the league in first innings this season, while Kansas City’s first-inning pitching ranked in the bottom five going into Saturday's game. And man, was it ever apparent.

Daniel Lynch took the mound for the second time in his major league career – he made his rookie debut against the Indians earlier this week – and what started as a leadoff single ended in absolute savagery.

Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal each singled to start the inning and made it home one batter later when Yoan Moncada doubled deep to left field. A walk and a fielder’s choice got Moncada to third, where he was driven home on a sacrifice fly from Yasmani Grandal.

The touted, young lefty received a quick pep talk from Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred, but the pounding persisted with gusto.

Andrew Vaughn doubled to left, Leury García tripled to right, Danny Mendick dinged one out of the park for a pair of runs, and voila, the game had been decided.

The White Sox added one more run off another base hit from Moncada in the inning, and Lance Lynn went to work with an eight-run lead. The White Sox would go on to win the game, along with the series, 9-1.

His second start since coming back from the IL with a strained right trapezius, Lynn was solid through five scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and striking out six. He did walk four batters, though, and told reporters after the game that he wasn’t too pleased about it.

 

“I’m not happy with the way I threw the ball with the stuff that I felt like I had,” Lynn said. “The command was definitely not there.”

Luckily for Lynn, the only thing that matters are the results of a start that are now included in the 24-straight scoreless innings the staff’s starting pitchers have produced.

It was a glorious first inning. But it was just that. An inning. And while it’s true that nine hits in the first were all the team needed, the offense’s failure to produce runs in later innings will eventually become a problem, even if their pitching is as stellar as it’s been.

In the 13 games the White Sox have lost this season, they’ve been outscored 30-9 after the fifth inning. 10 of those 13 losses were decided by three runs or less, and of those 10 games, the White Sox were outscored after the fifth inning in every single one, and by a total of 28-7. The White Sox are statistically the worst offense in all of baseball after the fifth inning, ranking dead last in MLB in runs, hits and batting average.

A related issue is that they’re also the worst team in baseball when trailing. And there’s not a close second.

Given their winning record and the fact that the White Sox sit in first place in the division, it’s easy to think their success in the first half of the game cancels out their failure to score in later innings. And so far, it has. The concern is that if the team eventually stops scoring at this high of a rate in the first few innings of the game, there’s almost a 50 percent chance they won’t score at all. That will be a problem against better offenses than Kansas City. Good teams score runs. Great teams score runs in pressure-situations and can claw their way back from behind. And in this league, you don’t go far into the postseason without that kind of grit.

But none of that mattered on Saturday in a game that was over soon after it began. There’s a lot that is superior about this offense, one that’s among the best in the league. And hopefully soon, stamina will be one of them.

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