KANSAS CITY -- The White Sox waited two hours and three minutes for the first pitch of Friday’s series opener against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, a start which was delayed by heavy rain.
There was another 49-second delay before Dallas Keuchel threw his first pitch, as the umpires executed a rule review to make sure Keuchel could use his rosin bag if it had been approved before the start. But in the eventual 7-2 Royals victory, marking Kansas City’s fourth win in the last five games against Chicago, good things did not come for those who waited in the case of the White Sox.
It was another rough outing for Keuchel, who has failed to work at least four innings in each of his last two starts. The veteran allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits over three-plus innings, with one strikeout and two walks. Over his last eight starts, beginning on July 26 in Kansas City, Keuchel has allowed 33 earned runs on 46 hits over 37 1/3 innings to go with 20 strikeouts and 16 walks. His ERA has jumped from 4.22 to 5.22.
"I wish it would've gone better,” said Keuchel after falling to 8-8. “I felt really good in the first, and it just didn't really carry over to the second. Just trying too hard and it just kind of backfired on me. I'm putting myself in holes that I shouldn't be doing or I haven't done in the past. It's self-imposed. It's just self-imposed, to be honest with you."
“He’s searching. He makes some good ones and then he misses,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa of Keuchel. “He’s searching and I know he’s not going to quit. He’ll keep fighting and figure it out. He was talking to [White Sox pitching coach] Ethan [Katz] and he’ll figure something out.”
Carlos Hernández held down the White Sox offense once again, allowing two runs on five hits over six innings. In his 17 1/3 innings thrown against the White Sox, Hernández has yielded five runs. He is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA as a starter against the White Sox.
“Hernández had been pitching really really well for them, and I knew I had to be pretty good,” Keuchel said. “So warming up felt great, and the first inning was pretty good and just couldn’t replicate it from then on out.”
Even with the loss, the White Sox magic number to clinch the American League Central dropped to 20 by virtue of Cleveland’s loss to Boston. Romy Gonzalez also made his Major League debut, after joining the team from Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday, and struck out swinging to lead off the seventh and then grounded out to end the game.
Keuchel will continue to get a chance to pitch his way out of these struggles during September, with a start most likely coming in Oakland next week. He won’t make any excuses aside from simply having to be better.
“Right off the bat, off the top of my head, I can’t remember a three-start stretch that’s been this bad, but I’ve been anywhere from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs and everywhere in between,” said Keuchel, who is 0-2 with a 16.00 ERA and .469 opponents’ average in his last three starts since Aug. 21. “So I’m not the guy that complains or that gets hit around and makes excuses.
“I need to be more competitive, I need to make more competitive pitches consistently. But I know what I need to do and it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it. There’s such a thing as trying to do too much, trying to do stuff out of your own element, that’s just a mixture of what I’m doing. At times you’re seeing the good and then a lot of the times that have been the last three starts, you’ve seen the bad. It’s just not putting myself in position to let it all unravel like I have.”