Sale, Sox can't afford any miscues vs. Royals

Chicago ace matches career high with 11 hits allowed over 6 1/3 innings in loss

Sale, Sox can't afford any miscues vs. Royals

CHICAGO -- The Royals currently stand as a better team than the White Sox.

That fact had been established before Kansas City took three out of four this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field, culminating with Chicago's 4-1 loss before 32,175 Sunday afternoon. But the point was driven home with a win against Chris Sale, the White Sox ace and four-time All-Star.

Even the best in baseball, such as Sale, are not infallible. And Sale has not been helped by a White Sox offense scoring three runs or fewer in eight of his nine home starts.

But Sale's second-half debut featured a slight lack of fastball command against the wrong opponent.

"Yeah, all over the place," said Sale, who fell to 7-9 with a 2.84 ERA in his career against the Royals. "This is not a good team to leave fastballs over the plate to, and also not a good team to let the ball travel over the fence. They take advantage of every opportunity you give them."

"Well, he's a strike-thrower with tremendous stuff and we're an aggressive team," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We came up to the plate swinging the bats."

On this rarest of days when Sale matched a career-worst 11 hits allowed, many of the other White Sox problems popped up again. Melky Cabrera was thrown out trying to go from second to third on Avisail Garcia's grounder to shortstop Alcides Escobar with nobody out and a one-run deficit in the second, and Jose Abreu and Cabrera struck out against Danny Duffy with runners on second and third after the first out in the sixth in a 2-0 game.

Those at-bats did cover 17 pitches total, so the fight and effort remains there for the White Sox. But aside from Tyler Saladino's first career home run leading off the ninth, the results continue to be missing for this 42-48 squad.

Saladino's solo shot

"At the end of the day, if we don't win, that's all that matters," Saladino said. "The home run is just a moment."

"We're playing as hard as you can, and that's all you can really ask," Sale said. "We got some bad luck along the way too. We're squaring some balls up and doing some things. Balls hitting off guys' gloves and going to the other guy. ... Sometimes you have to shake the bad luck before you get on a roll."

Was it bad luck or just exceptional defense by the Royals? The AL Central leaders do all the little things to be successful, which is in part why the White Sox sit 13 games back and may look to enhance their overall big-picture base instead of going all in this season at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"I know everybody wants to talk about it, but we're going to play as hard as we can against St. Louis," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We're going to play on Tuesday."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.