Royals

After error, Edinson Volquez, Royals crumble in 5-3 loss to White Sox

Tyler Flowers of the White Sox (right) celebrated with first-base coach Daryl Boston after hitting an one-run single against the Royals in the sixth inning Sunday in Chicago.
Tyler Flowers of the White Sox (right) celebrated with first-base coach Daryl Boston after hitting an one-run single against the Royals in the sixth inning Sunday in Chicago. The Associated Press

Edinson Volquez handed the baseball, the object that betrayed him in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, to Royals manager Ned Yost.

Before he exited the diamond, Volquez turned and patted the chest of third baseman Mike Moustakas, the other principal participant in an inning marked by agony.

The Royals entered the inning leading by three runs and breezing toward another victory over their American League Central foes. Ten batters, five hits, five runs, three unearned tallies and one error by Moustakas later, the Royals exited the inning with a two-run deficit they could not overcome. After Moustakas flubbed a potential inning-ending double play, the Royals came undone.

“That’s a play I need to make,” Moustakas said. “Ninety-nine times out of 100 times, I make that play. The one time I don’t make it, they score five.”

Kansas City, 12-6, played 10 innings on Sunday and suffered two losses. Chicago outfielder Avisail Garcia cracked a walk-off single in the ninth inning to complete Friday’s suspended game with a 3-2 White Sox win. Kelvin Herrera took the loss when he wobbled after a two-out walk.

The outcome in the regularly scheduled game spoiled a superlative effort from outfielder Alex Gordon. He flashed power with his second home run of the season. He displayed his arm strength with a cross-body throw to complete a double play in the fourth. In the sixth, before the afternoon collapsed, Gordon soared into the second row of spectators in left field to snag the first out of the inning.

“I just said, ‘Eff it,’” Gordon said. “And jumped into the stands.”

Gordon leaped over the railing as he completed a backhanded stab. His left hip collided with a White Sox fan, which actually helped break his fall. Gordon flipped over a seat and landed on his back along the concrete. Somehow, he suffered no injuries in the process.

He emerged moments later still clutching the inning’s first out. The second out would not arrive for five more batters. The highlight of the afternoon also marked the last moment of happiness for the Royals.

Volquez polished a gem through five innings. He had yielded only one hit. His curveball dive-bombed out of the strike zone and past the ill-conceived swings of his opponents. He looked impermeable.

“The first five innings,” Yost said, “man, he was awesome.”

But Volquez began to waver. Adam Eaton singled up the middle. Melky Cabrera walked. Eaton jetted to third base on a wild pitch to White Sox slugger Jose Abreu. There Eaton stood when Volquez launched a 95-mph fastball into the bottom half of the strike zone.

Abreu chopped a hard grounder toward third base. Moustakas ranged to his left and held out his glove to catch the ball.

“It had a lot of topspin on it,” Yost said. “And then, boom, boom, it jumped on him a little bit.”

Moustakas missed. Eaton scored as the ball dribbled into the outfield.

An avalanche soon followed. Volquez held himself accountable for the subsequent events. He failed to stay ahead in the count, which allowed the White Sox to feast on fastballs.

“Just a lot of bad pitches,” Volquez said. “They make you pay in the big leagues. You cannot make those kinds of mistakes.”

With two men on, Adam LaRoche lined a single up the middle. The lead dwindled to one. Another single by Garcia loaded the bases. In the Royals’ bullpen, Jason Frasor threw his first warm-up pitch. Yost stuck with Volquez, who had only thrown 83 pitches.

“You can’t have a quick hook on guys that you spend a lot of money to bring over here, who has been successful in those situations in the past,” Yost said. “Because he’s got the ability to make that one pitch to get out of the inning. He just didn’t do it.”

The game rested on the result of the next at-bat. With two outs, Volquez peered down at third baseman Conor Gillaspie. Gillaspie entered the day with a .195 batting average. In their previous encounter, Gillaspie flailed in vain as a curveball disappeared beneath his bat.

Except at this point, Volquez lacked the same command of his curve. He started the at-bat by spinning two out of the zone.

“I think I lost it a little bit in the last two innings,” Volquez said, though he could not come up with an explanation. He added, “I cannot tell you what was the reason. It’s crazy. It’s baseball.”

Two pitches later, Gillaspie ripped a two-run single into right. Frasor gave up a subsequent single to increase Chicago’s advantage. The Royals did not challenge again, after yet another afternoon being stymied by White Sox starter John Danks.

Danks defines statistical mediocrity. From 2012 to 2014, he was worth 1.8 wins above replacement according to Baseball Reference, a scant upgrade over a Class AAA equivalent. Yet he confounds Kansas City. Even after the Royals beat him earlier this month, Danks entered Sunday’s game with a 7-1 record and a 2.63 ERA against them.

Danks throws a fastball that only occasionally registers above 90 mph. But he throws enough strikes and drops enough change-ups to unsettle the Royals.

“There’s something about his change-up that definitely keeps us off balance,” outfielder Lorenzo Cain said before the game. Cain searched for a more descriptive answer, but came up empty. He threw up his hands.

Through the first eight batters of the game, the Royals effectively did likewise. Then second baseman Omar Infante pulled his fifth double of the season. With two outs, Danks fed Moustakas an 89-mph fastball over the middle. Moustakas kept his approach simple. He thumped a double into left, yet another opposite-field hit, this one enough to score Infante.

Kansas City tripled its advantage in the fourth inning. The sequence started with a single by designated hitter Kendrys Morales and a gaffe by Danks. Morales had not stolen a base since 2009. He had only attempted to swipe a bag once, in 2012, in the intervening years. But Danks felt compelled to attempt a pickoff. Morales hopped back to the bag well ahead of the throw, which skidded past Abreu and awarded Morales second base.

The extra 90 feet mattered not. Gordon belted a fastball into the Royals bullpen.

Volquez donated an opportunity to Chicago in the bottom of the inning. He broke off the mound a step late after Cabrera rolled a grounder to first baseman Eric Hosmer. Volquez beat Cabrera to the bag, but he dropped the ball upon his arrival. Abreu rifled a single for Chicago’s first hit of the afternoon.

There were men at first and second with no outs. Volquez responded with calm. A six-pitch duel with LaRoche ended with an easy fly-out to right. Garcia shot a change-up into left field, where Gordon glided to make the catch. Cabrera did not register this event. He was more than halfway to third when the ball landed in Gordon’s glove. Gordon flung the ball across his body for a double play.

“It’s good to produce and help the team out, but unfortunately, it was a loss,” Gordon said. “Hopefully we can keep things rolling.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

White Sox 5, Royals 3

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

A.Escobar ss

3

0

1

0

1

0

.294

Moustakas 3b

3

0

1

1

0

1

.310

L.Cain cf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.375

Hosmer 1b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.299

K.Morales dh

4

1

1

0

0

1

.311

A.Gordon lf

4

1

2

2

0

1

.255

S.Perez c

4

0

0

0

0

3

.314

Orlando rf

4

0

1

0

0

3

.289

Infante 2b

4

1

1

0

0

1

.234

Totals

34

3

8

3

1

13

Chicago

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Eaton cf

4

1

1

0

0

1

.200

Me.Cabrera lf

2

1

0

0

2

0

.269

Abreu 1b

4

1

1

1

0

1

.313

LaRoche dh

4

1

1

1

0

0

.210

A.Garcia rf

4

1

1

0

0

1

.274

Al.Ramirez ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.203

Gillaspie 3b

3

0

1

2

0

1

.205

G.Beckham 3b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.333

Flowers c

3

0

1

1

0

2

.237

M.Johnson 2b

3

0

0

0

0

0

.262

Totals

31

5

6

5

2

7

Kansas City

001

200

000

3

8

2

Chicago

000

005

00x

5

6

1

E: Volquez (1), Moustakas (3), Danks (1). LOB: Kansas City 6, Chicago 4. 2B:A.Escobar (5), Moustakas (4), Infante (5). HR: A.Gordon (2), off Danks. RBIs: Moustakas (6), A.Gordon 2 (7), Abreu (14), LaRoche (9), Gillaspie 2 (4), Flowers (6).

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 3 (L.Cain, Hosmer, Infante); Chicago 1 (M.Johnson). RISP: Kansas City 2 for 8; Chicago 4 for 9. DP: Kansas City 1 (A.Gordon, Infante).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Volquez L, 2-2

52/3

5

5

1

2

6

90

1.91

Frasor

1/3

1

0

0

0

0

9

0.00

F.Morales

1

0

0

0

0

0

12

1.35

Madson

1

0

0

0

0

1

8

1.04

Chicago

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Danks W, 1-2

6

5

3

3

1

8

100

5.64

Petricka

1

1

0

0

0

2

14

2.25

Duke

1

0

0

0

0

1

14

2.16

Robertson S, 3

1

2

0

0

0

2

17

0.00

Petricka pitched to 1 batter in the 8th.

Holds: Petricka (1), Duke (3). Inherited runners-scored: Frasor 2-1, Duke 1-0. HBP: by Danks (Moustakas). WP: Volquez.

Umpires: Home, Mike Everitt; First, Tim Welke; Second, Sam Holbrook; Third, Tim Timmons. Time: 2:48. Att: 23,317.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments