After splitting a pair of games in Cincinnati in which they allowed a grand total of *checks notes* one run, the White Sox flew to Kansas City to begin an important early-season two week stretch against the then-division leading Royals and Twins.
They got off to a strong start with a three-game road sweep of the Royals, which they finished off with back-to-back 9 run outbursts on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s game started with the Sox putting up an 8-spot in the top of the first powered by nine hits. The top three hitters in the Sox order, Tim Anderson, Nick Madrigal and Yoan Moncada all had two hits before the first inning was complete. That gave starter Lance Lynn more than enough cushion to pick up his third win of the year.
Lynn tossed five shutout innings, working around four walks as he only allowed one hit. Michael Kopech allowed the only Kansas City run of the night during his two innings of work as the Sox cruised to an easy win to put them in first place all by themselves.
Sunday, the Sox got on the board early again, but they waited until the 2nd inning to tally their first three runs of the day. After Kansas City scored one in the first to take their first lead of the series, Yermin Mercedes drove in Jose Abreu with a triple to right center. He later scored on a Leury Garcia sacrifice fly, on which Andrew Vaughn alertly moved up from 1st to 2nd on a throw that went towards home instead of 2nd base. Danny Mendick capitalized on that mental miscue by the Royals defense to drive Vaughn in with a 2-out single to right.
Mercedes added on the next inning with a 2-run double to make it 5-1 Sox. He finished the day 2-for-5 with three runs driven in and one run scored. Abreu drove in two in the 7th and one more in the 9th to provide a little extra cushion for a Sox pitching staff that allowed a grand total of five runs the entire five-game road trip.
Lucas Giolito admitted afterwards he didn’t have his best stuff, as he gutted his way through five innings of one-run ball. The Sox offense picked him up, and the defense, which was a sore spot early on, held the Royals at bay while the bats did their job.
With Cleveland rained out, the win put the Sox a full game ahead in the AL Central, and their MLB-leading run differential moved to +53. It’s all the more impressive, given that the Sox are missing two of the biggest run-producers in Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez.
They have overcome the loss of that run production by simply preventing the oppositon from scoring against them. Their runs against total of 111 is the best in the American League, while their 164 runs scored trails only Boston and Houston in the AL.
After an off day on Monday, the Sox return to action Tuesday to open a three-game set against the Twins. Minnesota has struggled this year early, so it’ll be nice to pick up a couple more wins and keep them down as much as possible. Dylan Cease gets the nod on Tuesday in the series opener.