Relievers pick up slack after Gonzalez's early exit

Relievers pick up slack after Gonzalez's early exit

KANSAS CITY - The White Sox could count a 2-1 loss to the Royals on Thursday night as a moral victory of sorts.

They went up against currently one of the American League's most dominant starting pitchers in Royals lefty Danny Duffy, whose complete game also doubled as his eighth straight win. The White Sox also endured a night where starter Miguel Gonzalez lasted one inning and part of one batter due to a right groin strain that landed him on the disabled list on Friday.

But in a season where the White Sox once were 23-10 and now sit a season-worst six games under .500 at 54-60 and 11 games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central, it's difficult to find the silver linings.

"You give up two runs, you gotta win the game," said third baseman Todd Frazier after his team slipped to 1-7-1 in series since the All-Star break. "It doesn't matter who is pitching. We did it yesterday, too. You have to find a way to tack on."

"We sprayed some hits around, and couldn't get anything going," manager Robin Ventura said.

Gonzalez carried a 2.65 ERA over his last six road starts into Thursday's rubber game, holding opponents to a .185 mark during those contests. He struck out two during a scoreless first, but felt something in his right groin area during the first-pitch cutter of a leadoff at-bat to Salvador Perez in the second.

Perez worked the count full and fouled off the next pitch. At that point, head athletic trainer Herm Schneider and Ventura came to the mound. Gonzalez gave way to Michael Ynoa.

Ynoa's great barehanded play

"That was my second time doing it on my right leg," said Gonzalez, who had the same issue last season with the Orioles. "Knowing you can't have that strength, you can't go out there and make it worse. We'll see what happens. I understand the situation. I just need to get better and get ready within three weeks.

"It felt about the same as it did last year. So I'm not worried about it."

Ynoa pitched three hitless innings in relief of Gonzalez, and Tommy Kahnle struck out the side in the eighth. Rookie Carson Fulmer worked a career-high three innings in between, giving up the two runs producing Kansas City's victory, but still striking out three.

Kahnle K's the side in the 8th

This trio figures to remain in the bullpen, with Anthony Ranaudo, who pitched very effectively during a spot start at Wrigley Field, standing as a potential rotation replacement from Triple-A Charlotte. These solid pitching efforts were a plus from Thursday, but without better offensive support, the White Sox still end up on the negative side of the ledger.

"They did a heck of a job. I'm proud of them. You know, it's good to see that," Frazier said of the young relievers. "You tip your hat to Duffy. He's been pitching great and we got him on the wrong day. You saw what he did to me. That happens."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.