White Sox edge Royals 3-2, stay three games ahead of Tigers
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org September 18, 2012 10:28PM
Chicagao White Sox v Kansas City Royals
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:28AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The mood in the White Sox’ clubhouse before they played the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday was relaxed and businesslike, which has been the norm throughout the season.
Their benchmark victory Monday against the Detroit Tigers left them breathing easier with a three-game lead in the American League Central — but not too easy.
‘‘You can take positives from it, but you cannot take the Royals for granted,’’ said manager Robin Ventura, whose team had lost 10 of its first 15 games to the Royals this season before defeating them 3-2 behind three solo home runs, seven strong innings from Gavin Floyd
(10-10) and another shutdown performance from the bullpen. ‘‘They’ve played us well. We realize the position we’re in, but if you let down, what you did in the last four days [four victories] gets washed away.’’
The scoreboard told the Sox the Tigers, despite losing right-hander Max Scherzer to a shoulder injury after two innings, were pounding the Oakland Athletics. So the Sox knew they needed to extend their winning streak to five to maintain their cushion.
They were ready from the get-go, getting a leadoff homer from Alejandro De Aza, a shot from Gordon Beckham in the fifth and another from Alex Rios in the seventh.
‘‘I’m not going to be critical of the home run when you get them,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Especially in the big park like this, though, we have to find other ways to score runs.’’
In his second start since coming off the disabled list, Floyd said his right elbow felt normal — and his pitching proved it. He allowed five hits, including a two-run single to Billy Butler in the first. After that, Floyd faced one batter over the minimum and retired the last 10 Royals he faced.
‘‘It feels great, especially after being out 15 days, to get back there and be a part of the team and contributing,’’ Floyd said.
After left-hander Matt Thornton pitched a perfect eighth, Ventura left him in to face lefty Alex Gordon to open the ninth. Thornton went to a 3-0 count on Gordon before coming back to strike him out, and
Addison Reed (28th save) got Butler to hit a 3-2 changeup to Beckham at second and retired Salvador Perez on a fly to Dewayne Wise in center to end the game.
‘‘Whatever they need right now,’’ said Thornton, who slipped and landed awkwardly on the strikeout pitch to Gordon.
Thornton said being off-balance actually made his fastball cut away from Gordon.
Reed said he is comfortable even if he doesn’t start an inning.
‘‘Whatever Robin wants, as long as we get people out and get wins,’’ Reed said.
Reed went to 2-0 and filled the count on Butler, ‘‘who was looking dead-red [fastball] on 3-2,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m glad [catcher] A.J. [Pierzynski] put the fingers down for a changeup.’’
De Aza had two hits in his return to the lineup after sitting out two games following an 0-for-5, four-strikeout effort against the Minne-
sota Twins. The homer was his third leadoff blast.
‘‘I have been rolling over and pulling off the ball,’’ said De Aza, who has spent extra time in recent days with hitting coach Jeff Manto.
Ventura indicated he will rotate De Aza, Wise and Dayan Viciedo in left and center fields, with Viciedo limited to left.
‘‘They’re all kind of doing their part, and there’s only three spots out there,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘You keep them fresh and try to give them a chance. You look at matchups and get them out there because they’ve all done something to get us here.’’