Royals get win in 13th after duel of aces turns to tussle
By John Jackson and Scott Merkin
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale allowed two runs over seven innings, striking out two and walking one during Thursday night's contest at U.S. Cellular Field between the White Sox and Royals. Yordano Ventura allowed five hits over seven innings, while striking out eight. But neither ace was around in the end for the Royals' 3-2 victory in 13 innings. Eric Hosmer doubled home the winning run off of Jake Petricka with two outs, as Jarrod Dyson barely beat the relay throw from Emilio Bonifacio.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Getting defensive: When Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez opened the seventh with singles, the Royals looked as if they were close to breaking the 2-2 deadlock. But Sale made a great running catch on Paulo Orlando's sacrifice bunt attempt, and Ramirez turned a Christian Colon line drive into an inning-ending double play.
Fast start: As the cliche goes, if you're going to get to a quality starter, better get him early before he develops a rhythm. That's what the Royals did against Sale. After the first batter, Alcides Escobar, lined out to center, the next four batters reached base (three singles and a walk), capped by Morales' two-run single.
Rally killer: The White Sox put runners on first and third with one out against reliever Kelvin Herrera in the eighth. But the rally was quickly turned back as Herrera struck out Avisail Garcia and Conor Gillaspie. Herrera reached 100 mph on one pitch to Gillaspie, but the out pitch was 89-mph changeup.
What a relief: Four White Sox relievers threw one scoreless inning apiece after Sale was ejected, giving them a chance for victory. Zach Duke, David Robertson, Zach Putnam and Dan Jennings combined to fan five.
"The celebration was fun. We were still focused on trying to win the division at that time. We were glad we clinched the Wild Card spot. To watch the boys celebrate was special." -- manager Ned Yost on the Royals' last visit to the Cell when they clinched their first playoff appearance since 1985
"It was a big mess." -- Sale on the seventh inning melee
LEFT IS RARELY RIGHT
Left-handed hitters don't stand much of a chance against Sale, who had limited them to a .185 average coming into Thursday's contest. But Mike Moustakas, Hosmer and Gordon all knocked singles against the White Sox ace. Gordon, who had two hits off of Sale, is the only left-handed hitter with double-digit career hits against him at 14.
LET'S BE CAREFUL OUT THERE
The Royals did not score in the fourth inning against Sale, but that was the least of the problems for the White Sox. Gordon broke his bat on a foul ball and part of the bat almost clipped Sale. Then, that bloop hit for Gordon barely eluded a diving Garcia in right, with Johnson barely eluding a collision with Garcia.
The Royals challenged a 10th-inning ruling of Abreu being safe at second after a Ryan Madson wild pitch. After the review, the call stood and Abreu stayed at second.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: LHP Danny Duffy, who issued five walks in his last start against the Athletics on Sunday, will look to limit the free passes in the second game of the four-game series at 7:10 p.m. CT. Duffy allowed five runs on eight hits against the White Sox on April 8.
White Sox:Jose Quintana gave up a career-worst nine earned runs in just four-plus innings of work against the Tigers Sunday, covering 93 pitches, which included 42 in the first inning. He went to seven full counts and allowed two home runs. Quintana has a 0-6 career mark against the Royals.
John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.