Royals can't slow White Sox, slip in WC race

Royals can't slow White Sox, slip in WC race

CHICAGO -- Rookies Yoan Moncada and Matt Davidson hit home runs and the White Sox scored five unanswered runs for a 7-6 win over the Royals on Friday night, but it was the way the game ended at Guaranteed Rate Field that will have everyone talking.

It ended in dramatic fashion on a double play when Whit Merrifield was thrown out at home trying to score from second base on a single to right field by Lorenzo Cain, who was thrown out trying to advance to second. The Royals challenged the out call at home and both calls wound up being reviewed and confirmed.

White Sox turn game-ending DP

Right fielder Avisail Garcia actually slipped after grabbing Cain's liner on a couple hops. But Merrifield had to hold at second to make sure the liner got through the infield. Third-base coach Mike Jirschele sent Merrifield after he saw the slip.

"I couldn't tell from second base, you can't really tell the angle, so I froze for a minute to see it get through," Merrifield said. "Once it got through, I hauled it home. They made a good play. That's how it ended."

The loss dealt another severe blow to the Royals, who fell 4 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot with nine games left.

"Obviously, when he slipped, we took a little gasp," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "But we were talking about his body control to be able to maintain himself enough to get up and make the throw that he did. Unbelievable."

According to Statcast™, Garcia's throw home was measured at 97.7 mph.

Said Royals manager Ned Yost, "My attention was on the ball hit to Garcia and when he slipped, I'm thinking, 'This game is tied.' Then, my mind is racing to all about the pitching matchups. All of a sudden, I look up and it's a strong throw to the plate, and I wasn't sure they tagged him. Lot of stuff going on there."

"It's tough," Cain said. "We need all these games down the stretch and to lose that one the way we did was tough. But that's how the season's been going for us."

White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez tossed 6 1/3 innings and gave up 10 hits and six runs, but only two were earned. He didn't walk or strike anyone out.

"Everything was working good today. Even the two new pitches I added to my repertoire were working good," Lopez said through interpreter Billy Russo, referring to the slider and sinker. "I've been feeling comfortable with both pitches, but today I threw them a little more often."

Royals starter Jason Hammel had his second straight rough start against the White Sox. Last week, Hammel went just 3 1/3 innings. He again lasted 3 1/3 on Friday, giving up eight hits and seven runs.

"That was just embarrassingly bad," Hammel said. "No way we should have lost that game. They give me a 6-2 lead ... it was garbage."

Royals catcher Salvador Perez left the game in fifth inning after getting hit in the facemask with a foul tip the previous inning. The Royals said he left for precautionary reasons with jaw soreness.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moncada's go-ahead shot: The White Sox were down, 6-2, in the fourth when they mounted a five-run rally, capped by Moncada's two-run homer to center (110 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™). After an RBI single by Tim Anderson, Davidson crushed a Hammel slider for a two-run homer, his 26th, and it was 6-5. Yolmer Sanchez reached on an infield single and Moncada jumped on a Hammel fastball to make it 7-6, his eighth home run.

Moncada's two-run homer

Perfect strike to home: The Royals had a chance to tie it in the sixth inning. Alex Gordon roped a two-out double to right field. Whit Merrifield followed with a ground-ball single to right and Gordon was waved home. Right fielder Avisail Garcia made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate to nail Gordon for the third out.

Avisail's perfect throw to plate

QUOTABLE
"I saw the out and I was excited, and then I saw the final out at second. I was jumping up and my heart was beating so hard. I was happy and excited. It was an exciting end of the game." -- Lopez, on his reaction to the game-ending double play

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Royals challenged an out call on a potential double-play ball by Eric Hosmer in the seventh inning. Hosmer originally was ruled out at first, but after 42 seconds, the call was overturned.

Hosmer reaches after review

The White Sox challenged Adam Engel's leadoff grounder in the sixth, where the center fielder was ruled out at first. The call was confirmed.

Escobar nabs Engel after review

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (8-9, 3.71 ERA) will take the mound in the middle game of this series on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. In his first start back from the disabled list (low-grade pronator strain) on Sunday, Duffy held the Indians to one hit over five innings while striking out eight.

White Sox: Right-hander Dylan Covey (0-6, 8.18) will make his 11th start of the season on Saturday against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Covey is looking for his first Major League win, quality start and 100-pitch outing, with a .321 opponents' average against and a 1.81 WHIP over 10 starts.

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

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.