Volquez pitches Royals to sweep over White Sox
KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Edinson Volquez, making his Royals debut, pitched eight strong innings and benefited from tremendous defense as the Royals completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox on Thursday with a 4-1 victory.
Closer Greg Holland finished off the ninth for his second save in two days.
Catcher Salvador Perez ripped his first homer of the season for the Royals, a two-run shot in the sixth that gave the Royals a 4-0 lead.
"If someone were to say we're hitting on all cylinders," manager Ned Yost said, "I'd have to agree."
Alexei Ramirez singled in the lone White Sox run in the seventh inning as the Royals handed starter John Danks his first loss ever to Kansas City after seven wins.
"Definitely, that's what you want to do. Play the game the right way. They play the game hard," said White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton of the Royals. "They're stealing bags. Eric Hosmer's stealing bags. You've got Alex Rios stealing bags, guys bunting guys over, playing great defense, making plays behind the guys.
"Lorenzo Cain making plays, Perez is throwing guys out. They've got a solid team. With that being said, it's a long season."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A day for LoCain: The Royals' center fielder drove in the first run with an RBI groundout in the first, but he also gave the fans a thrill with one outstanding play in center field and another very good one. In the second inning, Cain crashed into the wall robbing Adam LaRoche of extra bases. In the third, he bumped into the wall again after taking a hit away from Micah Johnson.
Volquez was in amazement over his defense in general.
"Unbelievable," he said. "I think we got the best defense in baseball right now. Everybody sees what it did last year. It was great. It gives a lot of confidence to the pitchers." More >
Burying the lead: Danks was solid through five innings, minus one problem: the leadoff hitter reached base against him four times. The Royals scored only once in those first five, but Cain's leadoff double in the sixth sparked a three-run rally capped off by Perez's two-run homer. The White Sox southpaw exited after 5 2/3 innings and was unable to push his career ledger to 8-0 against the Royals.
"Yeah, I felt like I had better stuff than 5 2/3 innings or whatever it was," said Danks, who exited after just 75 pitches. "Made a couple of mistakes, but was able to also make pitches when I had to. I feel good going into my next one."
A debut to remember: Volquez simply was in control throughout as he gave up one run, walked one and struck out five in eight innings. He threw 95 pitches, 58 for strikes.
"He just had everything working," Yost said. "He was consistently down in the zone with all his pitches."
Added Volquez, "Right now, I'm able to carry over the good things I did last year to this season. I did a pretty good job for Pittsburgh last year and hopefully I can continue doing it over here."
Anything you can do: Eaton was up to the challenge set by two spectacular catches made early in the game by Cain. In the fifth inning, with two outs and Paulo Orlando on third, Eaton made a running, diving catch in center off Mike Moustakas' line drive to save a run. Eaton was an American League Gold Glove finalist last year in center. More >
"This is a team with all 25 guys just trying to win. That's what good teams do and we're a good team." -- Moustakas, on Royals' mindset
"Who [cares] about the first three games? I want to be playing hot in September. Who cares about April? We'll get going. We're not worried about it." -- Eaton, on White Sox getting swept
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
For the first time since the 2003 season, the White Sox have opened at 0-3. In a somewhat strange twist, the White Sox also lost those first three games of '03 at Kauffman Stadium. That team, which was to be Jerry Manuel's last on the South Side, won its next four games and finished at 86-76, but did not make the playoffs.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
For three innings of Thursday's series finale, the White Sox and Royals were without phone communication from the dugout to the bullpen or to their designated replay areas. Managers Robin Ventura and Yost agreed to judge replays by what they saw on the field or how quickly they could get a courier to their replay representatives. The problem was fixed by the bottom of the third.
White Sox: The White Sox return for their home opener Friday, with a 3:10 p.m. CT first pitch against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. Hector Noesi gets the call, after making 27 starts upon joining the White Sox last season, posting a 4.43 ERA over 164 2/3 innings. The White Sox have won seven straight home openers and 12 of their last 13.
Royals: The Royals open a three-game set against the Angels on Friday at 9:05 p.m. CT and will send left-hander Jason Vargas to the mound. Vargas has a 9-3 record with a 2.86 career ERA at Angel Stadium. He's also 5-4 with a 3.02 career ERA against the Angels.