Adam Engel's three-run home run in the second was all the offense the White Sox needed in a 3-2 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium Friday night, marking a second consecutive victory for the South Siders. It was also a game-winning drive that potentially earned Engel more playing time in right field
Engel is 6-for-15 with four extra-base hits while getting the nod with Nomar Mazara on the 10-day injured list. But even with Mazara close to returning, the right-handed-hitting Engel could be part of a platoon with the left-handed-hitting Mazara.
“No matter what the situation is, I go about my business the same way,” Engel said. “My goal is to help the team win, and if that means I'm platooning with Nomar, Nomar's a really good player, a great teammate, a great guy. I'm one of Nomar's biggest fans; I hope he helps us win.
“Ultimately, we're a team, and we're going to play as a team, and we're trying to win as many ballgames as we can and put ourselves in a position to make a run at the postseason and make a run in the postseason. If that means I'm platooning with Nomar, then hopefully both of us together, we can really contribute as a platoon unit and hopefully the right-field spot is contributing a lot.”
There wasn’t much offense for the White Sox after Engel, just two more singles, to be exact. But the combination of Dallas Keuchel, Jimmy Cordero, Evan Marshall and Alex Colomé made the slim margin work. The White Sox bullpen has a 16 2/3-innings scoreless streak over the first four games of the road trip, and Marshall has retired the last nine batters he's faced.
“Very big,” said Keuchel, of the relief crew. “Bullpen never gets any credit, but they get the blame for everything. They've done quite a great job with what they have been dealt. The games we’ve lost, we’ve still been in because of those guys.”
Engel’s first homer in 2020 came off of Royals starter Kris Bubic and scored Luis Robert and James McCann. Robert reached base after beating out what should have been a routine double-play grounder to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, and McCann was hit in the head by a Bubic pitch but quickly moved to first. Manager Rick Renteria said it was a glancing blow, and McCann turned much like a boxer to avoid a punch.
It actually was the White Sox pitchers’ ability to retire Maikel Franco with a big inning on the line that ultimately made the difference. Franco came up with the bases loaded after one run had scored in the third, but he popped out to first baseman José Abreu. Franco came back to the plate with two on in the fifth but flew out to Robert, and in the seventh, Franco struck out swinging against Cordero with runners on first and second and two out.
Tim Anderson, who had two of Chicago's four hits, left the game in the seventh inning with right hip soreness and was pinch-hit for by Leury García. García singled to left with Nick Madrigal on second, but Madrigal was thrown out at the plate in his MLB debut after reaching on a Mondesi throwing error.
Anderson is day to day and will be re-evaluated Sunday, according to Renteria.
Keuchel allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings, threw 92 pitches and recorded 10 groundouts. Although he wasn’t quite as sharp as during his first victory of the season, on Saturday against the Twins, Keuchel was able to survive with the help of Engel’s power bat.
“I knew at some point in the at-bat, I was going to get a changeup from [Bubic],” Engel said. “I got one early in the count and swung over it and got to see it. It's a really good pitch.
“Once I got down in the count, he probably left it up higher than he wanted to, and I was able to put a good swing on it and recognize it. Credit to him for keeping us at bay after that, but just that one pitch got away from him and I was able to capitalize."