Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez go deep, lead 21-hit attack in White Sox’ 11-5 victory against Royals
“We should be winning these ballgames based on talent up and down the roster,” left-hander Dallas Keuchel said.
The White Sox are supposed to make hay against the Royals, and that’s exactly what they’re doing this weekend at Kauffman Stadium.
With a three-run home run by Eloy Jimenez in the first inning and a solo shot by Luis Robert in the second leading a 21-hit attack, the Sox handed veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez an early five-run lead on their way to an 11-5 victory Saturday after winning the series opener 3-2 on Friday. They improved to 4-4 after a 1-4 start.
After a worrisome beginning against the Twins and Indians — the two best teams in the American League Central last season and still that until proved otherwise — the Sox salvaged the third game of the series Wednesday against the Indians before winning the first two against the Royals.
On Saturday, the Sox enjoyed a victory that could have been a laugher all the way had they cashed in on all their prime scoring chances.
Jimenez and Robert were laughing, though — almost uncontrollably, in Jimenez’ case — in a tandem interview on Zoom after the game. Each fell a triple shy of the cycle.
‘‘I tell Luis: ‘We just need a triple in the next two at-bats,’ ’’ Jimenez said. ‘‘And he said: ‘Why did you tell me that? Now I have to focus on triples. I just want to hit the ball good.’ I said: ‘OK, just hit it, and you will get a triple.’ He was mad at me. So we [each] got a four-hit game, and that’s good.’’
As left-hander Dallas Keuchel said, games against the Royals are something of must-win-variety outings.
‘‘This Royals team has actually made some strides the last year or two,’’ said Keuchel, who allowed two runs in 5„ innings Friday. ‘‘Their lineup has some pop, so it’s not like we should be just running through ’em. At the same time, we should be winning these ballgames based on talent up and down the roster.’’
The Sox’ young talent was on full display, with Robert, 22, flourishing in the leadoff spot, scoring twice and amassing nine total bases with his first four-hit game and Jimenez, 23, glancing his second homer off center fielder Bubba Starling’s glove and adding two singles, a double, four RBI and two runs scored to his line. It marked the third time in franchise history teammates 23 or younger each had four hits.
In addition, Yoan Moncada had three singles and a walk, and Leury Garcia singled four times and was on base six times. A two-run double by Yasmani Grandal in a four-run ninth helped put the game out of reach.
With an offense that should score runs in bunches, the brunt of the Sox’ hopes of challenging the Indians and Twins falls on the starting rotation.
Gonzalez pitched 3‰ innings of scoreless ball in a high-traffic, 71-pitch start that featured six strikeouts, five hits and three walks. Jimmy Cordero rescued Gonzalez from a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
‘‘I feel like I was a tad bit off, not much,’’ Gonzalez said.
The Sox wasted a bases-loaded opportunity with no outs in the third when Adam Engel lined out and Nick Madrigal hit into a double play and another with one out in the fourth when Edwin Encarnacion and Jimenez struck out.
Right-hander Matt Foster pitched a scoreless fifth in his major-league debut, and Codi Heuer got the last four outs to earn his first career save. Foster became the fifth Sox pitcher to earn a victory in his big-league debut in the last 10 years. One of the previous four was right-hander Dylan Cease, who is scheduled to start Sunday as the Sox go for the series sweep.