Royals get the win in second consecutive HR derby with White Sox
The Royals and White Sox picked up where they left off on Tuesday night and continued to treat Guaranteed Rate Field like a little league park. This time, the Royals made their home runs count for more than their hosts.
Fittingly, on another homer-happy day, Royals slugger Jorge Soler led the way with a pair of home runs and added to his franchise single-season record in pushing his season total to 43 home runs. He missed a third homer by a few feet on third-inning blast that went for a double.
Five home runs from four players paved the way to an 8-6 Royals victory in the second game of their three-game series in front of an announced 14,385 on Wednesday night. The teams will play a rubber match on Thursday afternoon.
“I had a lot of fun but I don’t think the ball was carrying too good,” Soler said with Royals quality control coach/catching coach Pedro Grifol translating from Spanish to English. “Not like yesterday.”
When asked if he was referencing his double off the wall that narrowly missed being a homer, Soler actually pointed to his first home run.
“I am referring to the first ball I hit,” Soler said. “ I didn’t hit it great but I hit it pretty well and it just barely went out.”
Soler passed former Royal and current Milwaukee Brewers infielder Mike Moustakas to break the Royals’ previous franchise record (38). Both Soler and Moustakas enjoyed multi-homer games on Wednesday night, Moustakas’ birthday.
Soler also matched his career high with four hits in the game. The last time he did that was against the Minnesota Twins on May 30, 2018.
Soler’s second home run, a two-run smash in the top of the eighth with Adalberto Mondesi on base, gave the Royals (54-92) an 8-4 lead. Those two runs held up as the margin of victory.
Mondesi and Ryan O’Hearn each homered for the second day in a row, while Bubba Starling clubbed his fourth homer since coming up to the majors on July 12.
“The last couple nights have been a good night to be a hitter,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I think there’s been like 24 runs scored, 23 of them have come from the home run. Soler really had a big night. Those two tack-on runs at the end were big for us right there to give us a four-run lead.”
Royals starting pitcher Glenn Sparkman (4-11) entered the night having been victimized by the home run more frequently (27 homers in 117 2/3 innings) than any starter currently in the rotation, and he didn’t avoid the long ball completely.
He allowed a three-run homer to Eloy Jimenez in the first, and he limited the White Sox to three runs on five hits and one walk in five innings.
Sparkman gave up three home runs in his previous start against the Detroit Tigers, the fourth time this season (in 20 starts) he’d given up three homers in a game.
“With those big guys, you just really try not to let them get extended like Jimenez did,” Sparkman said. “I left it up for him, and he’s a big enough guy that he can get that ball out pretty easily. It’s just try to keep that ball down in the zone as much as possible and, if you’re going up, really not to let those guys get extended.”
After Soler’s second homer, the White Sox (64-80) cut into that deficit in the bottom half of the inning when Jose Abreu took Royals relief pitcher Jesse Hahn deep to left field for a two-run homer. Left-handed reliever Timmy Hill came in and got the final out of the inning with a strikeout to squash that rally.
Closer Ian Kennedy earned his 28th save in 32 chances this season. He got a big help courtesy of a magnificent diving catch by Whit Merrifield at second base to snag a line drive off the bat of Yolmer Sanchez for the first out of the ninth.
Thirteen of the 14 runs scored in the game and 23 of 24 in the series have come on home runs.
The teams tied the mark — since Sportsradar started keeping track in 1974 — for the most runs scored via the home run to start a series with 19. The first run to score on a play other than a homer came on a sixth inning ground ball by Jimenez that got a White Sox runner in from third.
The teams conclude their series on Thursday afternoon. Right-hander Jorge Lopez (3-7, 6.23) will start for the Royals, while right-hander Lucas Giolito (14-8, 3.27) is the scheduled starter for the White Sox.