Edwin's blast sets franchise record for Sox

August 29th, 2020

CHICAGO -- helped the White Sox set a franchise record for home runs in a single month Saturday afternoon against Kansas City. But it was the Royals who eventually flexed their muscles with four long balls to hand Chicago a 9-6 loss at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Kansas City’s five-run seventh inning put an end to the White Sox three-game winning streak, their eight-game winning streak at home and their seven-game winning streak within the American League Central. Chicago fell one game behind the Indians, although the team stayed one-half game ahead of the Twins, who it will play three times in Minnesota starting Monday.

“It’s baseball. We are not robots,” said White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease, who allowed one run over 4 1/3 innings Saturday. “So you are going to have games where things don’t click, but I think it’s just about coming to the ballpark tomorrow ready to go.”

Encarnación connected off Kansas City starter Brady Singer in the fourth inning for the team’s 52nd homer in August. The White Sox previously hit 51 homers in July 2003 and August 2001. Encarnación’s drive scored Eloy Jiménez to give the White Sox a 3-1 advantage, and it was the 420th homer of his career.

Encarnación’s blast to left had an exit velocity of 97.1 mph and a launch angle of 39 degrees, but the expected batting average was just .130, per Statcast. José Abreu, who fanned three times despite extending his hitting streak to 12 games, has paced the potent Chicago offense with an American League-leading 11 home runs in August.

“We’ve been locked in. The energy has been carrying from top to bottom,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “Being able to do something like that is definitely … we’re definitely going to cheer for that. But we’ve got to keep going and try to keep that same momentum headed into next month, and keep rallying around each other and continue to get better.”

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Even though the White Sox are not firing on all cylinders, as they fell to 20-13 overall, they are never too far from a comeback thanks to their high-powered offense. Chicago trailed by six runs in the ninth, and scored three in a span of five hitters against Ian Kennedy. One of those runs came across on a double from Anderson, who tied a career high with four hits. Jesse Hahn eventually struck out Yasmani Grandal and Abreu for his first career save.

“It has been really fun to watch,” Cease said. “No lead feels like we can’t come back from. Those guys, what they have done, it has been very impressive. So we just have to keep it going.”

Cease allowed one hit, an Alex Gordon home run, while striking out five and walking six. He threw 93 pitches, of which only 45 were strikes, completing August with a 4-1 record, 2.14 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 18 walks over 33 2/3 innings (six starts). Cease recorded 12 whiffs, per Statcast, with six off his slider and six off his four-seamer, but he worked into too many heavy counts.

“A lot of times, it seemed like I had two strikes pretty quick and then I would just throw three or four uncompetitive pitches,” Cease said. “The fastball played pretty well. They didn’t really do a whole lot with my stuff. I just gave away way too many pitches. Put them in way too many hitters’ counts. So if I execute pitches, it’s a completely different ballgame.”

With one out in the seventh and right-handed-hitting pinch-hitter Ryan McBroom at the plate, White Sox manager Rick Renteria elected to go with rookie right-handed reliever Zack Burdi in place of southpaw Jace Fry to protect a 3-2 lead. McBroom promptly tied the score with a home run, but Burdi stayed in to allow five runs on four hits and one walk. Maikel Franco’s three-run blast, landing just out of reach of center fielder Luis Robert’s leaping attempt, gave the Royals a four-run advantage.

“Today, we were hoping to just get a couple of outs,” said Renteria of Burdi. “Obviously, [he] got into a little trouble. He tried to work through it. It will be a tremendously good lesson and a good learning experience. He will come out better for it, I promise. Because he's got good stuff, but he will get better."

The White Sox also lost third baseman Yoán Moncada in the ninth, as he left with soreness in the back of his left leg after sliding into second following a run-scoring throwing error by Kennedy on his grounder in front of the mound. It’s the same issue that has been bothering him of late, and Moncada will be re-evaluated Sunday, per Renteria.