The road has not been kind for the Kansas City Royals all season, and the momentum they’d built in their recent home stand certainly hasn’t translated into their road trip so far.
Left-hander Kris Bubic gave the Royals a quality start after falling behind early, but the Chicago White Sox never let the Royals up off the mat. The Royals lost the opening game of their three-game series, 7-1, on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Royals (45-60) have lost all four games of their road trip, and they’ve fallen to 17-35 away from Kansas City this season.
Bubic (3-5) allowed three runs, three hits and three walks in six innings. He tied his career high with eight strikeouts.
He gave up three runs in the first three innings on a pair of home runs. Bubic retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced to finish strong. His fastball reached 95.6 mph in the fifth inning.
“Sometimes you get tabbed as like a finesse guy, and sometimes maybe you try to pitch to that a little too much, off-speed pitch after off-speed pitch,” Bubic said. “Then really that one bad inning, the third, I kind of lost the feel for the fastball a little bit. So, to be honest, I kind of said screw it, I’m going to try to throw it as hard as I could.”
However, the lead the White Sox (63-44) established against Bubic was more than enough.
The Royals had just three hits, and Hunter Dozier’s triple was the lone extra-base hit. Dozier also scored their only run. Carlos Santana and Edward Olivares also had hits, and Ryan O’Hearn registered an RBI.
White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease pitched six innings of 1-hit ball and matched his career high with 11 strikeouts. The Royals struck out 14 times.
“Cease threw a hell of a game and Chicago’s bullpen is really good,” Dozier said. “Bubic did a good job keeping us in the game. We’ve got to find ways to create a little more offense. It’s just kind of the way the games go sometimes. We’ve got to do a better job of getting people one, not trying to do too much and just try to get something going.”
The Royals saw left fielder Andrew Benintendi (0 for 1, walk) leave the game in the fourth inning with a shoulder injury after he stole his eighth base of the season. He came off the field gingerly with head athletic trainer Nick Kenney holding his arm carefully as he took care to keep his shoulder relatively still.
“As he walked off the field, we had a bad feeling in the gut on that one,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “It didn’t look right at all. The fact that it wasn’t dislocated, or whatever the proper term is, was a very good surprise.
“We’ll have to see how he looks tomorrow, but by the end of the day — just a few minutes ago — some of the strength was coming back and some of the mobility. I have a feeling he’s going to be pretty sore, but we’re really fortunate that that wasn’t a displaced shoulder.”
Benintendi left the game in the top of the fourth inning after he walked and then stole second. His head-first slide beat the throw, but he held onto the base with his left hand and his momentum carried past the bag. He appeared to jar his shoulder in the process.
Benintendi entered the day with a .259/.307/.415 slash line with 11 homers, 11 doubles, 38 RBIs and 41 runs scored in 79 games. He also began the day batting a .321 with a .364 OBP against AL Central opponents.
The Royals classified the injury as a shoulder strain, and they’ve called Benintendi’s status “day-to-day.”
The White Sox took a 3-0 lead on a pair of home runs in the first three innings against Bubic.
Andrew Vaughn’s two-out solo homer in the second inning gave the White Sox their first hit and a 1-0 advantage. He jumped on a 2-1 changeup from Bubic and smashed it 441 feet.
In the third inning with a runner on via a leadoff walk, Tim Anderson jumped on a 2-2 changeup and drove it over the right-field wall for a two-run opposite-field homer.
“We saw two different pitchers today,” Matheny said. “He came out in the fourth and he finally established his fastball, started using his fastball. When he did that it was night and day different. After giving up the three there, he started really using the inside part (of the plate) well.”
The White Sox maintained the three-run lead until the seventh inning when Dozier hit a leadoff triple to the wall in center field, and O’Hearn drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
Bubic finished his outing by striking out seven and allowing just one infield single in his final three innings.
“At the end of the day, everything plays off your fastball,” Bubic said. “Your off-speed pitches are going to go as your fastball goes. I’ve gone through my bumps and learned that at the end of the day that’s always going to remain true, no matter how good your off-speed pitches are. … If I have the fastball I showcased the last three innings, then that’s an encouraging sign going forward. Now, it’s just a matter of being able to tap into that as consistently as we can.”
Reliever Kyle Zimmer walked the bases loaded without recording an out to start the seventh inning. Richard Lovelady took over and allowed a walk, and a pair of singles in a four-run inning for the White Sox. The first three runs were charged to Zimmer, the final one to Lovelady.
Zimmer has now allowed eight earned runs in his last seven appearances (4 2/3 innings).
Wade Davis pitched one scoreless inning of relief. He has not allowed a run in his last five appearances.