This game wasn’t supposed to happen today. Rain on May 26 ultimately washed out the penultimate off day of the Royals 2016 season as the game was scheduled for a beautiful day in September. I don’t think the Royals minded as they brushed aside the White Sox 8-3 in the season finale between the two clubs.
A game that started innocently enough with both young starters trading 1-2-3 innings got interesting quickly in the second. Yordano Ventura and the Royals allowed a run to the White Sox in the top half, and it could have been worse, but Todd Frazier got caught leaning before an Avisail Garcia triple. Then the Royals answered in the bottom half with two home runs. These were hit by Paulo Orlando (391 feet) and Alcides Escobar (412 feet). Those two now have 22 home runs between them the last two seasons and they each homered within a span of three batters.
The White Sox answered with a home run by Jose Abreu that probably hasn’t landed yet, unless you’re using our recaps during the offseason to hold you over while there’s no baseball being played. If you were wondering, the ball traveled 451 feet and was hit at 107 MPH. Bomb.
The royals continued to work Rodon, pushing him to 78 pitches through four innings, but with no additional damage.
In the top of of the fifth, Paulo Orlando probably made the best play I’ve ever seen from him, robbing a hit with a spectacular leaping catch on a ball that was ticketed for a double. Omar Narvaez likely wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, but that’s okay because the Royals were.
Buoyed by the great catch by Orlando and another scoreless inning from Ventura, Billy Burns reached first on a bunt single and then advanced to second on a throwing error. Whit Merrifield was able to shoot a ball through the hole in right field to put runners on first and third for Hosmer, and this is where the magic happened.
Hosmer popped a ball up that landed in foul territory, not in a glove. Merrifield then stole second. Hosmer then grounded a ball past a drawn in infield to score Burns for his 96th RBI of the season. I’m not sure if you’d heard, but that’s a career high for him.
Up to the plate stepped Kendrys Morales, who hit a ball 400 feet in his previous at bat, but to the wrong part of the park. The first pitch was lost underneath Narvaez that allowed Hosmer to advance to second. It didn’t matter where Hosmer stood for what happened next. Morales hit a ball 444 feet into the left field fountains for a three-run homer, which gave the Royals a 6-2 lead and knocked Rodon from the game.
Oh, then Escobar got ejected for arguing balls and strikes. And so did Ned Yost.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. Ventura allowed the White Sox to load the bases in the top of the sixth with one out, meaning it took just four at bats before the tying run was already up to the plate for Chicago. Two pitches later, the inning was over and the White Sox hadn’t scored. So yeah, that worked out just fine for the Royals. Now it was easy.
With two outs, the Royals got started again in the sixth. Burns beat out an infield single, Merrifield doubled him home and then Hosmer singled him home for his 97th RBI of the season. That’s a career high for Hosmer, you know. At 8-2 after six, the rout was on.
While the bullpen had been fairly rested after seven innings (and a blowout on Sunday) from Duffy, it didn’t hurt that Ventura picked up the complete game. Now over his last 14 starts, Ventura is 5-5 with a 3.45 ERA and has averaged 6.1 innings per start in that time. If he does that next season, the Royals should be just fine. The complete game was his second of the year, but his first nine-inning complete game and set a career high for innings pitched in a game. That was pretty fun to see.
After a horrific start to the homestand with five straight losses (no, I won’t make you relive that A’s series), the Royals really bounced back to take the final three games against the White Sox and improve to 42-22 against the AL Central this season. Their last 12 are against the Central. If they win them all, I like their chances to make the playoffs.
The Royals head to Cleveland for a three-game set with the division leading Indians. Tomorrow’s matchup will be between Edinson Volquez and Josh Tomlin at 6:10 central time on Fox Sports Kansas City and the Royals Radio Network. Check back to BP Kansas City tomorrow for the series preview.