Sox make statement as they complete sweep of Royals

SHARE Sox make statement as they complete sweep of Royals
SHARE Sox make statement as they complete sweep of Royals

BY TONI GINNETTI

Kansas City spent almost 30 years chasing respectability in the American League before finishing as last season’s best.

The Royals are driving the pace car for the AL again this season, which made taking two of three from them—both on Sunday–all the more meaningful for the White Sox.

“It was a good day against a team that’s confident and playing good baseball,’’ starter John Danks said. “We have a lot of professional guys on this team too and we’ll play hard until someone gets us out.’’

Danks (1-2) has never lost to the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field in seven career starts, improving to 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA at home against them.

His team hasn’t faired nearly as well in the last four years, losing every season series to the Central Division rivals.

Last season, the Sox 6-13 record against the Royals was their worst against any opponent.

Danks has watched the Royals evolve largely on the strength of pitching—they lead the AL overall and have a lock-down bullpen that’s allowed only five runs this season—and solid defense.

“That’s what’s always been said—pitching and defense, and they do that. And you’ll need some timely hitting, too,’’ he said.

“But we feel we have guys here who can do that.’’

The Sox beat the Royals at their own game twice Sunday, completing Friday’s suspended game in the ninth with a walk-off single from Avisail Garcia after David Robertson’s (1-0) perfect inning in the 3-2 final.

They capitalized on a rare error by third baseman Mike Moustakas in the sixth of the scheduled game, scoring five runs (four unearned) for the 5-3 comeback victory.

“Their whole defense doesn’t give you many opportunities,’’ Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You have to take advantage of it when you can.’’

The timely hits came in the form of five singles in the sixth off starter Edinson Volquez (2-2) in time for Danks to get credit for the victory (six innings, five hits, three runs, eight strikeouts). The Sox bullpen gave up three hits but no runs in the final three innings, with Robertson getting his third save.

“We definitely can hang with the other teams here,’’ Robertson said. “We just have to go out and continue to take series. The more series you take, the better you end up at the end of the season.’’

The Sox have won three of their first six series, losing two and splitting one.

“Over the last five or six games we’ve played a really good brand of baseball,’’ reliever Zach Duke said. “Early on you’re trying to feel each other out and see how you are going to figure out how to win games. I feel like we’re starting to do that and playing our style.’’

The bullpen has been strong in the last 13 games, with a 1.36 ERA (six runs in 39 innings)—almost akin to the stingy major league best of Kansas City (0.65 ERA).

At the same time, the Royals have cooled from their hot start to go 5-4 in their last nine games—but only 1-4 in their last five road games.

“You know [the Royals] are going to be tough, so you have to be able to withstand it and keep going and sticking together,’’ Ventura said.

“Everybody continues to grind and get through it. I know it’s not where everyone wants you to be, but eventually it’s going to get there. I like what our guys are doing and how they’re going about it. They’re supporting each other and all that stuff that you like to see.’’

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