A fairly consistent theme of the 2018 Chicago White Sox has been patience. Not necessarily patience on the field, in terms of leaving pitchers in too long or anything like that. But the patience required to continue watching a team that is 30 games under .500 in mid-July.
Tonight, a different kind of patience was on full display. Patience at the plate. Through four innings tonight, the Sox had already forced the Royals into their bullpen and had seen a total of 107 pitches through those first four frames.
The patience at the plate paid dividends for the Sox in multiple areas. It forced the Royals to burn through six pitchers in the first of a three game set. It also led to six free passes to the Pale Hose. Walks are a relative rarity for this particular Sox team, who were averaging a league-worst 2.51 walks a game entering tonight’s contest. Through those first four innings the White Sox also managed to push across five runs. But things were just getting started for the Sox offense.
Perhaps most emblematic of the White Sox approach at the plate was Yoan Moncada, who drew three walks in the first three innings. As any fan who has watched with consistency this year knows, walks are a sign that Yoan Moncada is feeling “it” and could be due for a hot streak soon.
After forcing the early departure of Royals starter Brad Keller, the White Sox turned the Royals bullpen into their own personal batting practice. Home runs from Jose Abreu, Leury Garcia and Omar Narvaez resulted in four additional runs for the Sox.
For Abreu, the home run came in the midst of a solid day for the struggling All-Star. Entering the night mired in one of the worst sustained slumps of his career, the face of the White Sox collected two hits including the home run. His fourth inning single came following a five pitch at-bat where the slugger looked to be in control in the batters box in a way he hasn’t in a long while. His monster home run in the sixth came on a first pitch fastball that he deposited over 450 feet into the left-center bleachers.
Despite another strong start from James Shields, who went 6.2 innings allowing only two earned runs, the White Sox would need all of the additional runs they could get. It is the Royals after all, right?
A 7-2 lead entering the sixth inning might feel safe against many teams, but never the Kansas City Royals. A series of very White Sox-like events in the seventh and eighth innings turned what looked like a laugher into a nail biter. Two errors and some “Kansas City Specials” caused a raucous White Sox crowd to fall silent, perhaps fearing they were experiencing deja vu.
Tonight would not end how 61 other games this year, as Omar Narvaez continued his streak as the hottest hitting catcher in baseball (seriously), depositing a two run home run into the right field bullpen, and giving closer Joakim Soria all the padding he’d need to close out his 14th save of the year, and team’s 32nd win.
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