Santana K's eight, but home runs prove costly
White Sox go deep for all five runs as Royals drop second straight
CHICAGO -- Alex Gordon, the Royals' left fielder, was dreaming of what might have been.
Gordon climbed up the wall in front of the White Sox bullpen and strained to catch Dayan Viciedo's home run drive. If he had grabbed it, perhaps the Royals would not have lost as they did Wednesday afternoon, 5-2. He was so close.
"Almost, it hit the tip of the glove," Gordon said. "If it wasn't cold and my glove wasn't stone hard, it might have stayed in. But it just hit the tip of it and came out. If I could've just done it over again, I wish I could, because I was right there in position, ready to make the play."
Instead, the ball dropped into the midst of the happy Chicago bullpen crew for a two-run homer that gave the White Sox a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning.
The Royals could not overcome that, and their season has begun 0-2, certainly not what they envisioned when they burst out of the Arizona desert with the best record and the best batting average in baseball.
In two games, the White Sox have outscored the Royals, 6-2, with all their runs coming on five homers. On Wednesday, starter Ervin Santana gave up three, and reliever Luke Hochevar surrendered the other.
Certainly the two wins buoyed the White Sox's confidence.
"Definitely, especially against a team like Kansas City, and they played us tough these first two games," said catcher Tyler Flowers, who has two of the Sox homers. "Just establishing that, and the pitchers coming out and doing a great job starting and pretty much everybody, the bullpen coming in and doing their thing -- it has been a great start."
The Royals just are not hitting, going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position Wednesday to delight most of the 14,213 sun-seeking, shivering patrons at U.S. Cellular Field. In the series, they are 2-for-13 with RISP and have stranded 14 runners.
"We will hit," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The weather is no excuse, because the weather's cold for them, too, but we'll get on track. We can swing the bats, and Jake Peavy was pretty good today, too."
The weather, charitably announced as 43 degrees, certainly did not hinder the White Sox. Adam Dunn blasted a 431-foot homer to right field on Santana's first pitch of the second inning.
Then Flowers, who won Monday's 1-0 opener with a home run, hit the rerun button and led off the White Sox third with a homer to left on Santana's first delivery. Viciedo's homer off Gordon's glove came in the fourth, and Alexei Ramirez, the first hitter to face Hochevar, connected in the seventh.
Santana struck out eight and gave up just five hits, but, of course, three of them left the park.
"I don't know how much the weather plays into anything," Yost said. "In Spring Training, he was 92, 94 [mph], today he was 90, 91, but command was really good," Yost said. "Yeah, he's going to give up homers because he throws strikes. ... The majority of his pitches were in really good locations, and the three pitches they hit for home runs were in a pretty good spots."
The Royals' first run of the season came in the third, unearned by virtue of two White Sox errors. Their second run came in the sixth on Gordon's double off left fielder Viciedo's glove and a couple of groundouts.
The Royals' juiciest chance came against the White Sox relievers in the seventh, when Kansas City loaded the bases with one out. But Gordon and Alcides Escobar flied out. And the Royals did not get another runner the rest of the day.
"I'm trying to drive the ball and just didn't get it done, didn't hit it far enough out there," Gordon said. "We've just got to have better hitting. But we went through this last year, where we were in these big situations and it didn't happen. So, hopefully, we learned from it last year and we can change it tomorrow. Tomorrow's a new day."
That's the tack the Royals were taking after their season had begun with two losses after such a promising time in Spring Training.
"It's just two games into the season, you guys [reporters] act like we've gone 0-162," third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "It's just two games into the season. We're going to be OK. It's a good team, a lot of great players here. ... You can't judge anything off two games."
That's what Yost was thinking, too.
"We couldn't push a run or two across in some of those spots to get us back into the game," he said. "But we'll get on track here real quick."
And if Gordon had just made that catch, who knows what might have happened? Last year on a similar play he went up and came down, belatedly and dramatically revealing that he had caught the ball.
"That was the play I was dreaming to make," he said. "I wish I could do it again."