Royals

Royals rally past White Sox 7-5 in series opener

The Royals’ Eric Hosmer wass congratulated after his solo home run in the sixth inning during Friday's game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals’ Eric Hosmer wass congratulated after his solo home run in the sixth inning during Friday's game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Danny Duffy received two ovations from the crowd of 28,508 at Kauffman Stadium in the sixth inning on Friday.

The first was to salute a magnificent beginning to his third starting assignment of the season. Duffy retired the first 16 Chicago White Sox.

The second was bathed in sympathy as he left the mound without retiring another batter and surrendering five runs.

But in the end, Duffy was applauding his teammates.

The Royals battled back from a four-run hole and beat the White Sox 7-5 on in the series opener.

The deficit was the largest overcome by the Royals this season. It began immediately after the White Sox had opened a 5-1 lead, lasted two innings and Eric Hosmer came up huge in both.

His opposite field solo home run in the sixth sliced one run from the deficit.

In the seventh, Hosmer went the other way again, this time softly but enough to drive in two runs that gave the Royals the lead.

“A big hit for us,” Homser said. “But that whole inning was huge getting that whole thing going.”

Brett Eibner, in his major league debut, started the inning with a one-out double for his first hit. Jarrod Dyson walked and his speed to second base on a Alcides Escobar’s soft grounder gave shortstop Jimmy Rollins nowhere to throw. The bases were loaded.

Whit Merrifield, called up to the majors for the first time last week, singled to left for his first two big league RBIs.

Here, the Royals caught a break. A pitch from reliever Matt Alberts bounced away from catcher Dioner Navarro, and Escobar took off for third. Navarro recovered quickly and fired a strike to third. Escobar was ruled out by umpire Ryan Blakney.

Escobar immediately signaled to the Royals dugout that he was safe. The play was reviewed by the crew and the call was reversed. One out later Escobar and Merrifield, who had taken second, came home on Hosmer’s soft liner past Rollins.

“I knew I was safe,” Escobar said. “That’s why I pointed to the dugout. That was a big play.”

The Royals added an insurance run in the eight on Dyson’s sacrifice fly, and closer Wade Davis nailed down his 13 th save of the season.

The Royals improved to 25-22 and now stand one game behind the White Sox in the AL Central standing.

Until the comeback, the game’s storyline was Duffy’s dominance and the stunning pace in which he lost control of the game.

When Cheslor Cuthbert played a sharp grounder off his chest and nipped Rollins with a laser throw, Duffy had retired his 16 th straight to open the game. Was he on his way to something special, the first no-hitter thrown by a Royals’ pitcher since Bret Saberhagan in 1991?

The next batter provided the answer when Avisail Garcia lined a single to right. Two more singles brought Melky Cabrera to the plate. He blasted Duffy’s first pitch over the left field wall for his first grand slam since he was a member of the Royals in 2011.

It was followed by Todd Frazier’s solo shot and the White Sox led 5-1.

For five innings, Duffy was on pace _ ahead of pace _ for what the Royals sought.

This was the 83 rd start of Duffy’s career and third this season after opening the year in the bullpen.

Thrust into the rotation along with Dillon Gee after arm injuries to Kris Medlen and Chris Young required disabled list stays, Duffy was limited by pitch counts that didn’t exceed 50 in his two starts.

The idea Friday was to stretch him out to 75-80 pitches. Masterful work inside the strike zone allowed Duffy to jog to the mound through the middle innings at a time when high might otherwise have reached his limit.

Duffy struck out the side in the second inning, and when he walked to the dugout after Brett Lawrie’s pop to right to end the fifth, he had thrown 57 pitches and 44 strikes.

“I thought Duffy For 5 1/3 was the best I’ve ever seen him pitch,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Absolutely the best I’ve ever seen him pitch.”

It all fell apart in the sixth.

The Royals took the lead four batters into the game. Escobar slapped Miguel Gonzalez’s first pitch through the left side and Merrifield followed with a single up the middle.

For Merrifield, it extended his streak of a base hit in each of his first six starts since joining the team from Class AAA Omaha last week.

Escobar moved to third on Lorenzo Cain’s fly out to right and scored on Hosmer’s fielder’s choice chopper to first. It was the first of Hosmer’s four RBIs on the night.

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

Royals 7, White Sox 5

Chicago

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Jackson cf

4

1

2

0

0

1

.247

Cabrera lf

4

1

1

4

0

1

.293

Frazier 3b

3

1

1

1

1

0

.235

Abreu 1b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.253

Sands dh

3

0

0

0

0

2

.235

a-Eaton ph-dh

1

0

0

0

0

1

.286

Lawrie 2b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.246

Rollins ss

4

0

1

0

0

0

.231

Garcia rf

4

1

1

0

0

2

.252

Navarro c

4

1

1

0

0

1

.225

Totals

35

5

8

5

1

11

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Escobar ss

5

2

2

0

0

1

.270

Merrifield 2b

4

1

2

2

0

1

.370

Cain cf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.284

Hosmer 1b

4

1

3

4

0

0

.307

Perez c

4

0

1

0

0

1

.282

Orlando rf

4

1

1

0

0

1

.390

Cuthbert 3b

4

0

2

0

0

0

.254

Eibner dh

3

1

1

0

0

2

.333

Dyson lf

2

1

1

1

1

0

.264

Totals

34

7

13

7

1

7

Chicago

000

005

000

5

8

0

Kansas City

100

001

41x

7

13

0

a-struck out for Sands in the 8th.

LOB: Chicago 4, Kansas City 6. 2B: Eibner (1). HR: Cabrera (4), off Duffy; Frazier (15), off Duffy; Hosmer (9), off Gonzalez. RBIs: Cabrera 4 (24), Frazier (35), Merrifield 2 (2), Hosmer 4 (27), Dyson (7). SF: Dyson. S: Eibner.

Runners left in scoring position: Chicago 2 (Navarro, Eaton); Kansas City 2 (Escobar, Perez). RISP: Chicago 2 for 5; Kansas City 3 for 8. Runners moved up: Cain, Hosmer. GIDP: Orlando. DP: Chicago 1 (Lawrie, Abreu).

Chicago

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Gonzalez

6 1/3

8

3

3

0

5

80

4.50

Jennings

0

0

1

1

1

0

7

2.53

Albers L, 1-4

 1/3

2

2

2

0

1

14

4.43

Duke

0

1

0

0

0

0

2

3.78

Jones

1 1/3

2

1

1

0

1

19

2.33

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Duffy

5 1/3

5

5

5

0

5

76

3.23

Hochevar

 2/3

0

0

0

0

0

7

2.66

Moylan W, 2-0

1

1

0

0

0

1

19

2.46

Herrera

1

1

0

0

1

3

18

0.75

Davis S, 13

1

1

0

0

0

2

20

1.02

Jennings pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.

Duke pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.

Blown saves: Duke (3). Holds: Herrera (13). Inherited runners-scored: Jennings 1-0, Albers 2-2, Duke 2-2, Jones 1-0. WP: Albers, Davis.

Umpires: Home, Angel Hernandez; First, Will Little; Second, Ted Barrett; Third, Ryan Blakney. Time: 2:58. Att: 28,508.

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