KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Todd Frazier got knocked down. Down to the ground where the White Sox have been kicked around so many times at Kauffman Stadium.
And then he got back up, had a few words for Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera, and started a four-run rally Friday which carried the Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
After the Royals, seemingly in deep trouble after Sox ace Chris Sale retired their first 13 batters with ease, erupted for a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 4-2 lead, Frazier doubled down the left-field line against Herrera to help the Sox regain the lead for their ace.
Frazier, who hit a game-winning homer against the hard-throwing right-hander on Aug. 9, stood and stared toward the mound before catcher Salvador Perez made peace.
“When stuff like that happens and a guy responds and gets on base, you zero in a little bit,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “It narrows the sight some.’’
After the double, Alex Avila knocked Frazier in with a single, Avisail Garcia walked and Carlos Sanchez – the walk-off hero the day before – lifted a three-run homer inside the right-field foul pole.
“It changed the complete landscape of the game,’’ Sale said.
Rejuvenated by a burst of runs he hadn’t seen in a while – Sale was 1-5 with a 2.47 ERA in 10 starts in the second half – the slender lefty pitched a scoreless seventh, eighth and ninth as the Sox (72-75) won for the seventh time in 10 games while extending the Royals (74-73) losing skid to five.
Sale (16-8) needed 119 pitches to record his sixth complete game, the most by a Sox since Bartolo Colon had nine in 2003. He struck out 10 and walked one.
“As a starting pitcher, job number one is going out there every fifth day and then filling up innings,’’ Sale said. “I take a lot of pride in saving my guys.
“I credit my team and my catchers and not only them but Robin. He let me get extended a little bit. A lot of managers won’t let you go more than 100, 110 pitches. He came up to me after the eighth and asked me how I felt and we went from there.’’
While that team on the North Side of town was celebrating a division championship, the White Sox were settling for an outside shot at finishing .500 and pursuing individual goals. Five losses in their previous six games in Kansas City featuring bullpen implosions are one reason why.
But Sale played both starter and closer in this one, and kept the American League Cy Young Award within his reach. Sale (3.03 ERA, second in the AL) looked like the best pitcher in the league for 4 1/3 perfect innings. And then seven of the next 10 batters got hits off Sale, who watched his 2-0 lead disappear by allowing two runs in the fifth and sixth innings, the key play an infield single to deep shortstop by Hunter Dozier that produced two runs when Tyler Saladino’s errant throw pulled first baseman Jose Abreu off the bag.
Two more runs put Sale in a hole, but he regrouped and went on to record his 14th career complete game.
“I would love to see him get there and have a nice little run there at the end and win some games,’’ Ventura said of Sale’s Cy pursuit. “He’s always up there with the numbers , the ERA, that everybody else has. But run support hasn’t been the best.”
Sale is the first pitcher to throw six consecutive starts of eight innings or more since Jack McDowell in 1994.
“That’s the biggest thing, his endurance,” Ventura said. “In the last few years we’ve given him some time off, whether it’s skip a start or give him a few extra days. He really hasn’t needed that.
“Tonight was another example of that. He’s an elite pitcher in the league.’’
“There were a lot of good feelings when I saw (Sanchez’ ball) go out of the park,” Sale said. “I threw my hands up in the air. We know how our luck has been here at this park.’’
Melky Cabrera homered in the ninth, his 11th, center fielder Leury Garcia made a charging, diving catch in the bottom of the inning and Sale struck out Paulo Orlando on a game-ending 95-mph fastball for finishing touches on a fun win for the visitors.
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