Royals halt White Sox streak; lead cut to 2Continue reading.
Sox 5-4 victory ends six-game losing streak to Royals
Major league veterans say the grind of a season peaks in September when the pressure of reaching the playoffs magnifies every pitch of every game.
It is a new pressure for White Sox lefty Chris Sale and rookie closer Addison Reed–one they are trying to minimize.
“I just try to close my mind out there,” Sale said. “The more you think about things and put pressure on yourself, that’s not how you want to be. You still have to just make your pitches.”
It took three innings for Sale (16-6) to find his pitching groove Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. And it took a renewed focus by Reed (26th save) in the ninth to hang on to a 5-4 victory against the Royals, who had won the last six straight meetings.
“It’d be nice if it had been easier, but at the end of the day we got the win,” Reed said.
A day earlier, Reed yielded a two-run game winning home run to Lorenzo Cain, the man he faced again Saturday after the nemesis Royals already had scored twice with two outs and had the tying run at second. This time Cain struck out to assure the Sox of maintaining their lead in the American League Central over the Detroit Tigers for another day.
“They’ve been tough on us,” manager Robin Ventura said of the Royals, who have been tough on every team in the Central in the last month. “It’s good to get a win, beat a good pitcher [Bruce Chen] and get ready for tomorrow.”
Scouts following the Sox have noted a drop in Reed’s velocity, but Ventura reaffirmed his confidence in the rookie Saturday.
“He told me `go after him,’ ” Reed said of a brief mound visit before Cain’s at bat.
“We’ll worry about development next year,” Ventura said of Reed. “Right now, I just want him to get three outs. He’s earned his stripes as far as I’m concerned. He’s gone through a lot already in one year.
“No closer is ever going to be perfect but if he loses his confidence, that would be one thing–and he hasn’t. That’s a good sign for a young kid.”
Sale, in his own first year as a starter, has maintained his confidence and showed his development by adjusting after struggling in his first three innings when he gave up five hits. He gave up none in his next three innings.
“The first few innings were kind of erratic, al over the place, and honestly I just tried to go out and battle it out,’ he said. “This [Royals team] is a good hitting team and they like to swing and when they start to take a lot of pitches on you, you know you’ve got to turn things around and start throwing more strikes.
“Down the stretch, we’ve still got quite a bit of baseball left. You just try to keep your head in it and bring it every day.”
Sale credited catcher Tyler Flowers with getting him on track, Sale retiring the last 10 batters he faced.
Flowers helped provide run support as well with a two-run homer in the fourth, one of three the Sox hit Saturday off Chen (10-12), who saw his personal four-game win streak against the Sox end.
Dayan Viciedo (20th) and Paul Konerko (22nd) had the others–though the Royals out-hit the Sox 11 to 8.
The Sox became the first team this season to have five players with at least 20 homers, including Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, A.J. Pierzynski, Konerko and Viciedo.
Sale improved to 8-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 69 strikeouts in his last nine games at U.S. Cellular Field.