Royals feel much better leaving Chicago than they did arriving
JUL 23, 2014 6:18p ET
CHICAGO -- Manager Ned Yost had reason to finally smile a bit after the Royals gutted out a tense 2-1 win Wednesday over the White Sox and thus won the series, taking two of three.
"I certainly feel better leaving Chicago than I did when we got here," Yost said.
And Yost maintained that his confidence in his club did not waver, despite a four-game slide and having lost seven of eight before bouncing back with two straight over Chicago.
"You can't lose faith and you can't panic," Yost said. "... Today was a tough game and our guys grinded it out."
With the score tied 1-1, the Royals rallied in the ninth, starting with a single from Mike Moustakas. After a sacrifice bunt pushed Moose to second, Nori Aoki dropped a soft single to center. Moustakas read that the ball would drop but still wasn't able to beat the throw home from center.
But Moustakas, the hero the night before with two homers, this time used his legs, slamming into Chicago catcher Tyler Flowers, who was prepared to make the tag for an out. The collision, however, forced Flowers to drop the ball.
"He gave me a lane at first and then he took it away," Moustakas said of Flowers. "Then I was just trying to get a slide to the plate and luckily the ball popped out.
"That was a big, big win for us."
Aoki wasn't even credited with an RBI (the Royals will appeal) because it appeared Moustakas was a sure out.
"I don't care about the RBI," Aoki said through his interpreter. "Just glad to get a win."
-- A productive out and run. The Royals also displayed some solid situational hitting in the top of the first. Lorenzo Cain led off with a double and Omar Infante bunted Cain to third. Eric Hosmer, still nursing a bone bruise on his hand, then hit a sacrifice fly to center. I get on the Royals for lack of situational hitting, but they executed perfectly here. Well done, and it gave the Royals an early lead.
-- Alex does his job, too. Alex Gordon did all he could to get the Royals' offense going. He singled sharply his first three times up, but his mates could not do anything to get him home. Gordon then came up with runners on second and third and two out in the eighth, but the White Sox wisely took the bat out of his hands by intentionally walking him. Raul Ibanez, pinch-hitting next, popped out with the bases loaded.
-- Shields battles. James Shields had a little bit of a rocky start, giving up a two-out double and an RBI single in the first. He also had the bases loaded with two out in the second but grinded his way out of it. After that, Shields put it in cruise control for his third terrific outing in his last four starts.
"That's what he does," Yost said. "He might struggle to find his rhythm early on, and then he just gets in a groove."
Shields had command of his change and fastball, and gave up six hits through seven innings and only one run. He walked one and struck out seven.
"I thought I had good tempo all game," he said. "I made good pitches in the first innings, too."
The main thing was getting the win. "We needed this after what happened in Boston," he said.
-- Oh, Danny. Danny Valencia, inserted into the DH spot in place of Billy Butler, had a day he'd like to forget -- along with any Royals fan watching. Valencia killed three rallies, two with double-play grounders (the very thing that fans hound Butler for). With two on and two out in the sixth, Valencia struck out swinging on another pitch out of the zone. Needless to say, that is not what Yost was hoping for when he made the decision to sit Butler against a left-hander.
But alas, Butler did get in the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, and stayed in, only to hit into yet another double play in the ninth. Yikes.
-- Ground-out city. Of the 21 outs that White Sox lefty Jose Quintana recorded, 16 came as a result of ground balls. Royals hitters, impatient with Quintana's changeup, kept pulling ground balls all afternoon.
"Quintana is a tough, tough pitcher," Yost said. "And he really had it working today."
-- The Hoz injury. Hosmer could not finish the game because he said afterward he was losing his grip strength in his right hand (bone bruise). Hoz said after his third at-bat he simply couldn't grip the bat. He also told us after the game that he didn't think he aggravated the injury.
"It's just going to be day to day," Hosmer said. "I want to get in there with the guys, but I know I need to think big picture, too."
That was a hint that Hoz might sit out Thursday.