CHICAGO -- Not even an early three-run lead against White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who has dominated Kansas City over his career, was enough as the Royals fell, 4-3, on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Alex Gordon got the Royals, who dropped a 2-1 decision in the completion of Monday’s suspended game in the opener, going in the first inning of the nightcap. After Whit Merrifield singled and Adalberto Mondesi walked, Gordon jumped on a 2-1 changeup and sent it over the left-center-field wall for a three-run home run.
Giolito came into the game with a 4-0 record and a 2.27 ERA in his career against the Royals. And he settled down after the Gordon homer, retiring 20 of the next 21 hitters he faced.
“Giolito has been so tough on us,” manager Ned Yost said. “[After the Gordon home run], I thought this might be the night his command might be off and we’re going to capitalize on it. But he was tough on us again.”
Added Royals outfielder Whit Merrifield, “It’s not just us he’s good against. He’s up to 97 [mph] now with four good pitches, a good curveball. Sometimes you just got to tip your hat to a guy.”
Royals starter Brad Keller got the first 10 hitters to pound the ball into the ground. But as was the case most of the night, Keller got a bit unlucky as five of those 10 ground balls found holes in the infield. He went six innings altogether and gave up 10 hits, all singles, and four runs.
“He’s such a ground-ball guy, and he was getting his ground balls,” Yost said. “We were just a foot or so away from a lot of them.”
After a rough stretch of starts, Keller may be finding his command again. He walked just one in six innings -- he had walked 41 in 65 innings coming into the game.
“We had a good game plan going in and we got the ground balls,” Keller said, “but they just kept finding holes. Our infield was diving all over the place trying to get to them so credit to them.”
Keller kept the Royals close with a magnificent escape act in the sixth. James McCann singled to right and went to third on an infield grounder by Yolmer Sanchez that caromed off first baseman Ryan O’Hearn’s glove. Sanchez took second on the throw to third.
But with the infield in, Keller got Jose Rondon and Charlie Tilson to ground out to third. Then, Keller got Leury Garcia on a weak fly to left, keeping the score at 4-3.
“I thought [Keller] did a fantastic job of holding the fort right there and keeping us in it,” Yost said.
Keller added, “Just trying to keep it a one-run game there. But I felt good all night. I kept the ball down in the zone, just one walk, got ground balls. That’s my game.”
The Royals had one more chance in the eighth when Cam Gallagher hit a leadoff single. But pinch-runner Terrance Gore slipped while trying to steal second base, nearly fell, and was an easy out.
“I just slipped,” Gore said. “That’s never happened to me before.”