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White Sox fall to 0-2 with loss to Royals

Alex Gordon, left, beats the tag by White Sox catcher Welington Castillo to score on a two-run double by Jorge Soler during the sixth inning Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. (AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two games, two losses, and both of them not too pretty.

There are 160 to go, so it’s much too soon to declare the 2019 season a flop — but it’s never too soon to get the house in order.

Two days after making three errors and getting only four hits in a season-opening loss, the Sox showed some thump with a three-run home run by Jose Abreu and a two-run shot by Yoan Moncada. But they looked shoddy in the field behind shaky starting right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, got no help from their middle relievers after Abreu put them back in the game and dropped an 8-6 decision Saturday to the Royals — a team coming off a 104-loss season.

On the plus side: Left fielder Eloy Jimenez got the first and second hits of his career, both singles to center, and Moncada went 3-for-4 and is looking like a new man at the plate. After a strong spring, the switch-hitting 23-year-old third baseman has four hits in the first two games. And late-inning relievers Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome were perfect in the seventh and eighth, respectively, keeping the Sox within reach in the ninth, when they opened the inning against Ian Kennedy with singles by Welington Castillo and Tim Anderson.

But Yolmer Sanchez, Leury Garcia and Moncada — ending the game with a fly ball to right — went down in order after that.

“We have time and plenty of games to play,” Moncada said. “We are still confident. Hopefully we can start winning tomorrow. The season is just starting, keep the energy.”

Lopez, the team’s best starter from start to finish last season, needed 88 pitches to get through four-plus innings. Working on a windy, 38-degree day, he allowed four runs, six hits and four walks and struck out two.

While Lopez was laboring through 72 pitches in the first three innings, hitting Alex Gordon with a pitch and walking Hunter Dozier on four pitches in a three-run third, his defense wasn’t helping.

The most glaring misplay was a catchable pop fly near the line in shallow left field that fell between Anderson and Jimenez after Anderson pulled up and looked for Jimenez, who was charging.

“I called it, and he didn’t hear me,” Jimenez said.

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In another outfield caper, speedster Billy Hamilton tagged up on a fly ball to Daniel Palka in medium-deep right field and — Hamilton’s blazing speed notwithstanding — beat Palka’s throw more easily than expected. The throw was off the mark, anyway. The next batter, Adalberto Mondesi, lined a double over Palka’s head and off the base of the wall.

There was also a sequence of three throws on one play — from deep left, Jimenez threw to Anderson, who threw past catcher Castillo; Jace Fry, backing up the play, then threw to Moncada at third — none of them particularly clean.

The Royals are fast, and they’ll put pressure on you. But that’s no excuse, manager Rick Renteria said.

“If they’re on the bases, it’s certainly disruptive, but you’ve got to be able to manage it,’’ Renteria said. “You’ve got to be able to slow them down a little bit. You certainly can’t make mistakes that allow runners to advance more than one base at a time if possible.”

On the plus side: It’s important for Jimenez, making the transition to major-league pitching under the microscope that comes with a $43 million contract, to get off to a decent start, at least. After a tough major-league debut Thursday, Jimenez, still seeing a steady diet of sliders, struck out twice but got the two singles.

“It feels amazing; it’s one of those firsts you’ll never forget,” he said. “I’m going to put the ball in my room where I can see it every day.”