KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu were hurt, and Tim Anderson had a scheduled day off.
Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks were unavailable in the bullpen.
And Andrew Vaughn played his first game as a professional at second base.
That was a rough way to line up and try for a series split with a team that was an MLB-best 8-3 since the All-Star break. On a hot afternoon with a heat index of 109 by the eighth inning, the American League Central-leading Sox (60-43) lost a 5-0 decision to the fourth-place Royals (45-56), who have won seven of their last eight.
The Sox have lost six of nine and are 6-8 since the break. They’ve scored 17 runs in their last eight games and managed only five hits against Carlos Hernandez and two relievers.
Jimenez, in his third game back after missing the first 16 weeks of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, left Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss in 10 innings with right groin tightness.
“Still waiting, he was getting checked this morning,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Don’t know yet. He’s definitely not playing today.”
Abreu played with a stiff neck Wednesday.
“It bothers him some when he has to look around,” La Russa said. “It popped up Wednesday. We just want to get him off his feet today, get him treated so he’s close to 100 percent as possible before we go home [to open a three-game series against the Indians].”
With third baseman Yoan Moncada at designated hitter, Leury Garcia played third and Danny Mendick was at shortstop alongside Vaughn, who played second without incident, turning a double play.
Another four-inning start for Rodon
All-Star left-hander Carlos Rodon pitched four innings of four-run ball, allowing eight hits including homers to Salvador Perez and Michael Taylor. Rodon struck out four and walked none in his second straight start of four innings.
Rodon (8-5, 2.49 ERA) experienced a drop in velocity as he did against the Brewers Saturday, sitting at 92-93 in the first couple of innings when he served up the home runs, but again picked it up after the first two innings, touching 97 and 98 mph in the latter two.
“Started slow, similar to Milwaukee,” Rodon said. “I don’t really like to make excuses. But, it’s just part of the game. Just got to make some adjustments, feel better this next start and get it going, get going faster.”
The Sox are talking about giving starters extra rest, and Rodon is a likely candidate for that.
Kopech groomed for starting
Michael Kopech (1.52 ERA, 59 strikeouts in 41⅓ innings) will be a starting pitcher — most likely next season — and is preparing for it in the bullpen his rookie season.
“We actually had a conversation about that,” La Russa said. “It’s going to benefit him and his future as a starter. But this year to be able to take clutch pressure situations for a team trying to get to October, that’s money in the bank. That experience, and the way he’s responding to it is working out really, really well for him and the White Sox going forward.”