White Sox’ starting rotation stays on roll in 9-1 victory against Royals

Lance Lynn pitches five scoreless innings as Sox starters extend their streak without allowing a run to 25 1⁄3 innings.

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Lance Lynn pitched five scoreless innings against the Royals Saturday night. (AP)


Who needs a lineup at full strength with pitching like this?

With left fielder Eloy Jimenez missing since spring training and center fielder Luis Robert since this week with injuries that will sideline them through most, if not all, of the season, much more will be asked of the White Sox’ pitching staff.

And the starters appear to be up to the task of pitching their team into the postseason, as planned.

In a 9-1 victory Saturday against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, the Sox’ 10th triumph in their last 14 games, Lance Lynn (3-1) pitched five scoreless innings to extend the starting rotation’s streak of scoreless innings to 25„.

Lynn, who still is working his way back to full speed since coming off the injured list with a strained trapezius muscle, called it a day after 90 pitches. He walked four but allowed only one hit and struck out six.

The rotation’s scoreless streak, which began with the last 1 1/3 innings of Lucas Giolito’s outing last Sunday against the Indians and was carried on by Dylan Cease (six), Dallas Keuchel (seven), Carlos Rodon (six) and Lynn, has seen Sox starters combine for 28 strikeouts and 10 hits allowed.

Sox starters have the lowest ERA in the majors at 2.68.

‘‘Every team I’ve been on that had great postseason runs had quality starting pitching,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘You have to have five, six, seven guys who give you quality innings. We’re not afraid to get after each other, to push each other from start to start to be the best we can be.’’

Pitching coach Ethan Katz knows he is working with a potentially special group. But 31 games into his first season on the job, Katz steered clear of touting it as more than a rotation that gives the Sox a very good chance to win every night.

Which is something the Sox (18-13) haven’t had in a long time.

‘‘When the season’s over and things go right, then I’ll be excited,’’ Katz said before the game. ‘‘I just go day by day. I’m happy with where they’re at. I know there are going to be bumps in the road, and how fast we can get back on track is the biggest thing. I’m happy with where they’re at right now, that’s for sure.’’

If a rotation is as good as its weakest link, consider this: Rodon (0.58 ERA) has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, and Cease (2.38 ERA) has put back-to-back scoreless outings together — and they were the No. 5 and No. 4 starters going into the season. The top three of Giolito, Lynn and Keuchel all received American League Cy Young votes last season.

Giolito’s ERA is 4.99 overall, but it’s 3.03 throwing out his one-inning, seven-run fiasco against the Red Sox last month in Boston. Keuchel (3.79 ERA overall) has a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts, and Lynn’s ERA is 1.57.

And Michael Kopech, who allowed a run in two innings of relief Saturday, is waiting in the wings if needed, perhaps for a third start in a doubleheader Friday against the Royals at home. After throwing 28 pitches, Kopech went to the bullpen for more work, possibly building up his workload in advance of another start.

After the Sox erupted for eight runs in the first inning, the offensive highlight was four walks for Yasmani Grandal, a .121 hitter whose 13 walks in the last four games tied Babe Ruth and Bryce Harper for the most in any four-game span in the modern era. It was another example of the hit-and-miss offense that pelted the Reds with nine runs Tuesday, then got no runs and two hits against them Wednesday.

Pitching might have to carry the day. And the season.

‘‘We know guys are hurt,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘But you have to take it one inning at a time. We can’t think, ‘We have to be great.’ And if we do that, we’re going to be fine.’’

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