KANSAS CITY -- Daniel Lynch’s slider has caused numerous problems for opposing hitters since the Royals' left-hander returned to the Majors at the end of July. But it was that pitch that led to problems for Lynch on Saturday night against the White Sox.
A cut on Lynch’s index finger partly led to his 2 2/3-innings outing. It interfered with his ability to finish his fastball, as well as the slider with the bite that it usually has, and the White Sox jumped on his other pitches for six runs on five hits (two homers). Lynch walked three and needed 65 pitches to get into the third inning.
“Just the way I grip my slider, I have my index finger resting against the ball,” Lynch said. “For some reason, [Saturday] it was just sort of ripping into my finger. It was cut, and it was just bleeding out and getting onto the back of my finger. I didn’t really feel it until the second inning.”
After a 28-pitch first inning that led to three runs on two homers, Lynch didn’t use his slider much in the second inning, allowing him to get through a clean frame. He was forced into using his slider in the third inning when he got into a jam and threw multiple pitches in the dirt.
Manager Mike Matheny and Royals trainer Nick Kenney made a visit in the third inning to give Lynch some treatment for the cut, and after he threw a few warmup pitches, he stayed in the game. Once the White Sox built a 6-0 lead with two outs, Matheny called on reliever Ervin Santana to finish the inning.
“Velocity was down a little bit. He was shying away from the breaking ball a little bit,” Matheny said. “Mostly, it was how he was reacting. You could tell it was a concern. It was something that just didn’t feel right. We need our hand to feel right in order to make quality pitches. But trying to get through it, and it wasn’t going to go. Best to get him out.”
Lynch doesn’t have a history with blisters or other issues with the finger. The Royals don’t think it will interfere with his ability to make his next start, but they’ll monitor it over the next five days.
Perez back behind the plate
And Perez took his place behind the plate for the series finale against the White Sox.
“This guy continues to be real honest,” Matheny said. “That was a conversation we had yesterday, talking about how to push and how to be smart. I think he’s taken some great steps in the right direction of being smart, of when there’s something to push through or when there’s something to be a little more cautious.”
Perez received high praise from White Sox manager Tony La Russa on Sunday morning after making Saturday’s game closer than it originally seemed it was going to be with five RBIs. The way Perez has progressed as a hitter has caught La Russa’s eye; Perez’s strikeout percentage (26) in 2021 is higher than it has ever been, but his power is the highest of his career, too. His previous season high for home runs was 27. With 27 games left this season, he’s at 40 homers and counting.
“I saw the enthusiasm, he [plays] the game because he loves it, and you look at his talent, the catching, thinking, throwing,” La Russa said. “And he was always an aggressive hitter, but he has gotten so smart at the plate. He knows where he’s hot. Once in a while he gets a little aggressive, and he’ll chase a pitch, but most productive guys go up there and swing, not be tentative.
“It’s just a pleasure to watch a guy develop into a great player, take the potential and make himself a real productive player, and a potential Hall of Famer.”
• The Royals set their rotation for this week’s four-game set in Baltimore, with lefty Kris Bubic starting things on Monday. Right-hander Jackson Kowar will start on Tuesday, followed by lefty Mike Minor on Wednesday and righty Carlos Hernández on Thursday.
• Major League Baseball announced a scoring change from Wednesday’s game against Cleveland. Andrés Giménez's fifth-inning hit to center field that was initially ruled a double, then an error on Michael A. Taylor has been changed back to a double for Giménez. That makes the two runs against Kowar earned.