Royals overwhelm White Sox in series finale

Royals overwhelm White Sox in series finale

CHICAGO -- A quick offensive burst is all it took for the Royals to grab their second consecutive win Sunday and claim the series with the White Sox, 14-6, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Royals struck for four runs in the second, third and sixth innings. Whit Merrifield had three hits, including his 14th home run, and drove in a career-high five runs. He was a double short of a cycle.

Merrifield's two-run triple

"I'm going to get it one of these days," Merrifield said of the cycle. "Keep getting opportunities, one of these times it will happen, I hope."

The Royals remained five games behind first-place Cleveland in the American League Central. The Royals' win Sunday came on the heels of a dramatic come-from-behind win Saturday.

"Those types of wins, like I said last night, can jumpstart a team," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Momentum is easy to stop, it seems, but it's hard to get. We were kind of spinning our wheels, trying to get momentum. But those types of games where you have the lead, lose the lead, and get the lead back can jumpstart your momentum. What happened today is what I hoped would happen after a game like last night."

Left-hander Jason Vargas (14-6) was the beneficiary of the Royals' offensive burst. Vargas lasted six innings and gave up seven hits and three runs while striking out seven.

Left-hander Derek Holland started for the White Sox and was gone after facing three hitters in the third. He gave up seven hits and seven runs while walking three. His ERA rose to 5.68.

"I don't even know where to begin," Holland said. "Today was just, in my eyes, embarrassing. Not being able to find the strike zone, and then when I did, catching too much plate. These guys are going to do what they did today to you when you can't not be in the middle of the plate. It's frustrating."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can I get a Whit-ness?: Merrifield punched a huge hole in this one when he came up in the third inning with Cheslor Cuthbert on second and Alcides Escobar on first. Merrifield worked the count full and then fouled off four consecutive pitches from reliever Mike Pelfrey. Then on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Merrifield pounced on a 92-mph sinker and drove it into the left-field seats for a three-run homer, giving the Royals an 8-0 lead.

Merrifield's three-run homer

"I think [Cain's two-run single] was the biggest at-bat of the game,," Merrifield said. " But obviously, tacking on [is good]. We'll take all we can get."

Stop right there: The White Sox started to make some noise off Vargas in the fifth when with two outs, Tim Anderson drilled a two-run home run. The White Sox strung three more consecutive hits and suddenly it was an 8-3 game. Nicky Delmonico came up with a chance to get the White Sox back into the game. Delmonico sent a deep drive to right-center but center fielder Lorenzo Cain chased it down and caught it just in front of the fence.

Cain's terrific running catch

QUOTABLE
"I will say this, in watching [Yoan Moncada] work and watching his demeanor, this is a kid that will exponentially grow fast. These experiences and these at-bats are giving him an opportunity to register and be able to use it. He's going to have to his advantage and start understanding how he can change his approach to handle things like this and be able to drive the pitcher back to his strength." -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria, of the team's top overall prospect per MLBPipeline

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Delmonico extended his franchise-record streak when he was hit by a pitch in the second inning to reach base for the 12th consecutive game to open his career. He finished 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He has 16 hits in his first 12 games, tying George Washington for the second-most in franchise history to open a career. He is hitting .405 (15-for-37) over his 10-game hitting streak.

HIGHLIGHT REEL
The game ended in dramatic fashion despite the score, as Royals outfielder Alex Gordon -- who replaced Cain in center field in the seventh inning -- climbed up the center-field wall to rob the red-hot rookie Delmonico of a potential two-run homer. The ball, which Statcast™ said traveled an estimated 390 feet with a hit probability of 55 percent, would have been Delmonico's second career home run and first at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Gordon's incredible catch

"It happens kind of quick, a catch like that," Gordon said. "Hard to tell how tough it was. I thought I made a good route to it. I don't know how much I jumped -- I don't have a good jump. But it would have been a homer."

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Royals challenged an out call in the second inning as Cain was attempting to steal third. The original ruling indicated Cain was safe but came off the bag and was tagged out. But after review, the out call was overturned. Cain wound up scoring moments later on a single by Melky Cabrera.

Cain's diving stolen base

The Royals challenged another call in the fifth when Leury Garcia was called safe at first after grounding a ball to short. That call was overturned.

Royals replay specialist Bill Duplissea now is a Major League-best 75 percent (18 of 24) in replay challenges.

The White Sox challenged in the eighth inning after Escobar scored on Brad Goldberg's wild pitch. The ruling on the field stood, however, after there wasn't sufficient evidence to indicate that Goldberg had applied the tag on Escobar before he touched home plate.

Escobar scores on wild pitch

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Right-hander Jake Junis (4-2, 4.70 ERA) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Omaha to start Monday as the Royals open a three-game series in Oakland at 9:07 p.m. CT. Junis, filling in for the injured Trevor Cahill, last pitched Aug. 6 against the Mariners and threw eight innings while giving up four hits and one run in a 9-1 win.

White Sox: The White Sox have an off-day Monday before Miguel Gonzalez (6-10, 4.85) takes the bump at 9:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Gonzalez has four quality starts in his last five outings, including allowing a run in six innings in a 1-0 loss to the Dodgers on July 18.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago who covered the White Sox on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.