CHICAGO -- Dylan Covey's defense didn't do him many favors Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, as the young right-hander struggled against the Royals.Covey lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs (four earned) in a 10-5 White Sox loss. Wednesday marked the eighth time in Covey's last nine
CHICAGO -- Dylan Covey's defense didn't do him many favors Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, as the young right-hander struggled against the Royals.
Covey lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs (four earned) in a 10-5 White Sox loss. Wednesday marked the eighth time in Covey's last nine starts that he's pitched five or fewer innings. In six of those outings, he has not completed the fifth. Kansas City scored five runs in the fifth, four of which were credited to the right-hander.
Though Covey's issues against the Royals could largely be chalked up to defense, according to White Sox manager Rick Renteria, he still grinded through some iffy command.
"If we make a couple plays, he's probably through the fifth," Renteria said. "We were hoping to get him through six innings today. He left a few pitches up that they got to, but there were a couple plays that we didn't help ourselves with."
Covey's frustrations stem from a lack of consistency, saying he doesn't feel "free and easy" on the mound. Relying heavily on his sinker, Covey said he feels at his best when he feels loose rather than trying to be too precise.
"When I try to overthrow things and do too much, then I'm pulling the fastball across the zone, not getting it to the right spots," Covey said. "In games I don't have success in, I noticed I'm really trying to tense up to get that ball where it needs to go.
"If I can be free and easy and let my mechanics take over and not try to muscle up anything and not be tense on the mound, be free and easy and let my pitches work how they should, [I should have success], and that's the mindset I've had in the games I've had success on."
Despite breezing through the first two innings, Covey began to unravel in the third, when the Royals loaded the bases with no outs courtesy of two walks and an error. Covey found some luck when Whit Merrifield grounded into a 1-2-3 double play, but Alex Gordon, who finished with a home run and four RBIs, followed with a two-run double to give Kansas City its first lead of the night.
Covey gave up another run in the fourth after retiring the first two batters of the inning and couldn't rebound in the fifth. He induced a leadoff flyout from Raul Mondesi, but the next four batters reached on two singles, a walk and a Yoan Moncada fielding error. Covey was subsequently removed after an RBI single by Lucas Duda.
"I'm thinking going six innings at that point and didn't execute a pitch to Duda," Covey said. "Line-drive base hit, and the game went from there."
Down 10-1, Chicago scored three runs in the sixth. Daniel Palka worked an RBI walk and Leury Garcia drove home two more with a single. Garcia added an RBI single in the eighth and has now driven in at least three in two of his last four contests.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moncada gets to Junis again: Moncada got the White Sox going in the first inning with his 14th home run of the season. Oddly, the leadoff homer wasn't his first this season against Junis. Back on April 26, Moncada also hit a similar line-drive shot off the Royals starter in Kansas City.
"I like to be in the leadoff spot because I have the opportunity to do many things," Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "I can be aggressive first pitch, but also, I can take many pitches to help the guys who are coming up behind me. And I can get on base, and that's one of the strengths of my game. I can definitely take advantage of that spot."
Asked if Moncada, who has struggled against left-handed pitching this season, could become the full-time leadoff hitter, Renteria said, "I think that if he continues to have good right-handed at-bats and it balances out on the whole, yeah. I think at the leadoff spot, he would be a guy that gets on base a lot, obviously takes a lot of pitches. And he's continuing to improve on that side, so as we continue to move forward and he gets more at-bats under his belt, you never know."
Jose Abreu recorded his 31st double of the season, joining Magglio Ordoñez as the only players in White Sox history to hit at least 30 doubles in five straight seasons. Ordoñez accomplished the feat from 1999-2003.
HE SAID IT
"Well today was certainly a better outing, and we saw the velocity that everybody had been talking about. I thought his direction to the plate was a lot better today than his first outing. … He was behind the ball, I think he got up to 100 [mph] today in one particular pitch, threw a breaking ball looked fine. But today was a much better outing for him in terms of just attacking the strike zone. Didn't look like he was muscling up, just a cleaner delivery." -- Renteria, on the recently called-up Thyago Vieira
The White Sox will look to avoid being swept by the last-place Royals on Thursday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Reynaldo Lopez (4-9, 4.57 ERA) will take the mound for Chicago, aiming to get back on track after a rough patch of recent starts. Lopez has given up 18 runs in his last 17 innings, equating to an unsavory 9.53 ERA. Brad Keller (4-4, 3.43) will oppose Lopez for Kansas City.
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.