Last-place Royals hand White Sox 12-5 loss in Pedro Grifol’s homecoming

Dylan Cease’s ERA climbed to 5.58 after allowing seven runs and nine hits as the White Sox fell to 12-24.

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White Sox manager Pedro Grifol removes pitcher Aaron Bummer from the game Monday against the Royals.

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol removes pitcher Aaron Bummer from the game Monday against the Royals.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pedro Grifol’s homecoming was like a lot of things during his first year on the job: tough to watch.

Kansas City is where Grifol put down the final building blocks for his managerial career that began when the White Sox hired him Nov. 11. It’s where Grifol returned Monday to lead his Sox against a 10-26 team.

“This is a special place for me,” he said before the Sox fell to 12-24 by losing 12-5 in the opener of a four-game series. “We had some great runs and magical moments here.”

Grifol’s club led 3-1 with its Opening Day starter, Dylan Cease, pitching. To get routed by the lowly Royals was the latest example of the myriad ways things are going south on this team.

“This was a tough one,” Grifol said.

The Sox are playing .333 baseball but had won five of their previous seven games with their first two series wins behind them. Now they’ll have to win three consecutive games at Kauffman Stadium to win this series after Cease got roughed up for a season-high seven runs and nine hits.

“When we got them on two strikes, we just couldn’t put them away,” Grifol said. “They got about seven hits with two strikes, three extra-base hits, including a homer [by MJ Melendez] and a couple of doubles. That was the game right there.”

Cease said his stuff was better than his previous two outings, but he couldn’t put enough hitters away.

“I need to kind of hunker down with my slider,” he said of his best pitch. “I’ve been backing them up and not getting the consistency I need. And it really comes down to executing. I feel like I’m on a good track right now; we’ve made some good improvements the last 10 days or so. We’ve had a lot of focused work. Just got to keep feeling the process. The results are disappointing.”

“I actually thought Cease had really good stuff,” Grifol said. “His velocity was high. He felt good. He was strong.

“Today was two-strike pitching.”

Cease exited in the sixth with the bases loaded and no outs after a single, a hit by pitch and a walk to Maikel Garcia, who was trying to bunt. Left-hander Aaron Bummer (10.80 ERA) entered and allowed hits to three lefties. He had to be relieved by Jimmy Lambert. When the inning was over, the Royals had sent 12 batters to the plate and put eight runs on the board for a 12-4 lead.

Distancing himself from his Cy Young runner-up form of 2022, Cease (2-2) struck out six, walked one and failed to go beyond five innings for the sixth time in eight starts. He has allowed 29 hits in his last 18 innings and will take a 5.58 ERA into his next start against the Astros. Cease is winless with an 8.25 ERA in his last five starts.

The Sox got a two-run double from Andrew Vaughn in the third inning and a home run from Gavin Sheets in the sixth against Zack Greinke.

Former Royal Andrew Benintendi was ejected by plate umpire Manny Gonzalez after Elvis Andrus struck out in the seventh inning against Royals lefty Amir Garrett. Unrelated, Garrett became ill after the at-bat and vomited behind the pitcher’s mound before leaving the game. Luis Robert Jr., playing like a Gold Glove candidate in center field this season, dropped a fly ball on the run for a two-base error in the eighth.

A Sox fan wearing a Paul Konerko jersey cheered loudly with other Sox fans when the Blackhawks were awarded the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft, so there was that.

It was that kind of night.

It has been that kind of season.

“It was definitely one that got away from us,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn was speaking of the game, but the same can be said of the season.

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