KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Once Reynaldo Lopez went one pitch at a time, things worked out fine.
Following three consecutive poor outings, Lopez pitched six effective innings against Kansas City on Sunday. And backed by a 471-foot homer from Eloy Jimenez, the Chicago White Sox defeated the Royals 5-2.
“The biggest difference was that I was able to clear my mind and be focused on the pitches I needed to execute,” Lopez said through a translator. “In the past, I was thinking about other pitches in the game, or my mechanics.”
“I was able to clear my and stay focused all through the game,” he said.
A day after Lucas Giolito shut down the Royals in a 2-0 victory, Lopez (4-6) allowed one run and four hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
Lopez had been struggling recently, giving up 19 earned runs in his last 13 1/3 innings over his previous three starts.
“All my pitches were good today,” he said. “I was able to command, execute and finish all my pitches the way I know I can do it.
“I know that this team needs me, and I need to perform at my best every time I’m out there. We’re fighting every day and we want to win every time we’re on the field. Today was a step forward to that purpose,” he said.
His manager appreciated the difference.
“He threw very, very well,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. “His curveball was working very well, and his slider was working well. He was using it for punchouts. He commanded his fastball a little better. All in all, much better in catching the strike zone and mixing in his secondary pitches.”
Yoan Moncada had four hits and an RBI for the White Sox, who lost the series opener but had back-to-back solid pitching performances to take the last two games.
The Royals are 0-6 in rubber games in 2019, continuing a streak that started early last season. Kansas City has lost 14 straight rubber games, dating to May 30, 2018, and is now 0-14-2 in its last 16 series.
They struck out 11 times, the 11th time in 16 games they’ve reached double-figures.
“We’re on a strikeout run here,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “We’re striking out a bunch, but they’re not on strikes, generally. They’re on pitches down below the zone. Curveballs give us a bit of a problem here lately, and we keep swinging at them.”
Glenn Sparkman (1-2) gave up two earned runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Jimenez led off the second with the longest home run at Kauffman Stadium since Brandon Moss hit a 474-foot drive for the Royals against the Twins July 1, 2017. The White Sox added an unearned run later in the inning on Charlie Tilson’s double.
“Nah,” Jimenez said through a smile when asked if that was the farthest home run he’d hit. “In a game, I hit one 490 in spring training. This was my first in the majors in a game that counted.”
Jorge Soler hit a 445-foot shot homer in the fourth, snapping Kansas City’s 13-inning scoreless drought.
The White Sox got a run in each of the last three innings, on Moncada’s single that scored Tilson in the seventh, an eighth-inning double by Tim Anderson and an unearned run in the ninth.
Royals 1B Lucas Duda continues on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha. He’s 12 for 35 with one home run and three doubles in 10 games with the Storm Chasers. He’s been on the IL since April 26 with a lumbar strain.
White Sox RHP Dylan Covey was placed on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation, retroactive to June 6. The White Sox recalled RHP Thyago Vieira from Triple-A Charlotte. Vieira is 1-0 with 2.08 ERA in three relief appearances with the White Sox this season. He was 3-1 with 17 saves and 24 strikeouts in 17 appearances in Charlotte.
White Sox: Open a six-game, seven-day homestand Monday against the Washington Nationals. Renteria said the White Sox would make the decision on their starter Monday after talking to the players who may be affected by any roster moves. The Nationals swept a two-game series from Chicago on June 4-5, including winning on a walk-off home run by Trea Turner in the second game.
Royals: Will have Monday off before opening a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. RHP Jakob Junis (4-6, 5.63 ERA) will start for the Royals against Spencer Turnbull (3-5, 3.01 ERA).
— Associated Press —