The Royals have dealt the Sox four losses, two suspensions and just a world of insult and embarrassment so far this season, and the Sox need to start getting their revenge in large chunks. They got things started early Sunday when Avisail Garcia fisted a walkoff to end the game that was suspended for rain Friday night at a 2-2 tie. David Robertson pitched a clean ninth for a win, then followed it up a few hours later with a one-inning save to seal a 5-3 comeback triumph.
Much like the White Sox themselves, Conor Gillaspie and John Danks needed to start doing some good, and soon, or start facing an uphill battle to play with the big boys all season long. And now, on the back of some certifiably interesting Sunday performances from the two, the Sox are nearly out of their early-season hole at 8-9, after climbing out of a 3-0 hole Sunday afternoon.
- Six innings and three runs allowed is the saddest quality start, and John Danks certainly didn't deserve much more. As much as Steve Stone tried to argue that Alex Gordon's fourth-inning two-run homer which staked the Royals to an early 3-0 lead was "windblown," one of the most homer-ridden pitchers of the last two years, who will have to face far warmer and hitter-friendly conditions all summer, does not get the benefit of the doubt. But his fastball showed renewed vitality, sitting at 90 mph with regularity and touching 91, and his improved toy led him to an easy season-high (both for him and the Royals) eight strikeouts in six innings. He wasn't untouchable, but it was very legit back-end starter stuff from a guy who's looked like a caretaker up until this point.
- Conor Gillaspie is a pure platoon bat who hasn't been hitting. With Gordon Beckham pushing the Peter Principle at the utility role and Matt Davidson allegedly alive in Triple-A, Gillaspie needed to start giving a reason he should be in the building soon and improve upon his .179/.220/.308 line against right-handed pitching. One scorching, two-out go-ahead two-run single of a flagging Edinson Volquez in the sixth inning doesn't turn his season around (there are too many components to his struggles still) but he should definitely should be glad he's not seeing the momentum to have him removed if he had blown that rally.
- What on Earth were the Royals doing? Of all the teams that should see a three-run lead evaporate in the hands of a flagging starter, this is possibly the last team in history of baseball that should do it. Instead, the Mike Moustakas error on a routine grounder to open the Sox scoring came after the two-straight batters had reached safely on the previously cruising Volquez, and a wild pitch had pushed them forward. With the tying run at first and the middle of the order due, Ned Yost let Volquez cough up two more singles, then face Alexei Ramirez with the bases loaded and get away with hanging curveball, and STILL THEN face Conor Gillaspie while giving up the platoon advantage. If you're wondering why I exhaustively laid out every step of this rally, it's because it happened in slow motion. There was no huge extra-base hit or dinger, or sudden turn of events. The Sox just lopped on baserunner after baserunner until the inning collapsed on them. The Royals have one of the best bullpens ever, but lost two games late Sunday that Wade Davis never got into. Going to say here that their manager still might not be very good.
- David Robertson has now struck out 17 of the 29 batters he's faced this season. He got the win and a save Sunday, and spearheads a bullpen that struck out eight in four scoreless innings. Jake Petricka looked legitimately nasty in his inning of work.
- Robertson is cited as an example of "you don't need big velocity to be effective," but let's make something clear, the type of stuff he's flinging up there is of a quality where....well, you might as well concentrate on how to throw 98 rather than try to duplicate it.
- It wasn't nearly as good as Alex Gordon flying into the seats to snag a foul ball off the bat of Micah Johnson to start the sixth, but Melky Cabrera's leaping catch at the wall to snag a bomb off the bat of Eric Hosmer and prevent at least a run in the eighth is a reminder how much of an improvement having an actual left fielder--even a not particularly well-regarded one--is for the White Sox.
- The Sox still have a -9 run differential, second-worst in the division.
Next game is Monday night at 6:05pm CDT in Baltimore on WGN