The Kansas City Royals managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory Monday night, squandering a 5-0 first inning lead en route to a 7-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
The Royals opened the game with five straight runners reaching base, Nori Aoki and Alcides Escobar singled ahead of Eric Hosmer‘s double, which scored both runners for a quick 2-0 lead. Billy Butler knocked in Hosmer with a single up the middle to make it 3-0. After Salvador Perez flew out to center, moving both runners up, Lorenzo Cain singled both in for a 5-0 lead.
But the Pale Hose chipped away. Alexei Ramirez hit a 3-run home run in the third to whittle the lead to 5-3. In the fourth, both teams put up a run. Dayan Vidiedo hit a solo shot for the Sox, and Hosmer drove in his third run of the game, knocking in Escobar.
The South Siders weren’t done there. In a game that saw baserunning blunders by the Sox, three errors combined by both teams, and even a play where Jason Vargas and Ramirez both missed first base on a ground out before Vargas tagged Ramirez after the bag, perhaps the biggest blunder of them all was Royals Manager Ned Yost leaving Vargas in to face Paul Konerko in the fifth. With one run in already, and the Sox gifting the Royals a base runner when Gordon Beckham was thrown out at second, Vargas walked Adam Dunn. Instead of bringing in a righty to face Konerko, Yost left Vargas in, and Konerko bombed a shot over the center field wall for a 7-6 lead.
Putnam and Ronal Belisario each pitched two scoreless innings, holding the Royals hitless from the fifth through eighth innings.
The Royals mounted a charge in the ninth. Aoki singled to start the inning. It appeared Escobar, one the Royals’ most consistent hitters this year, might swing away. Yost pinch ran Jarrod Dyson for Aoki, signaling that Dyson perhaps would steal second. Escobar, however, bunted and was safe when Sox pitcher Matt Lindstrom came up lame fielding the bunt.
If the sacrifice was on anyway, surely Aoki could have advanced on a bunt. Scott Downs came on to strike out Hosmer for the first out. With Butler at the plate, Dyson got careless – as he likes to do – and tried to, what, steal home from second? Whatever he did, he got picked off second and was in a rundown. Escobar advanced to second and at a moment both he and Dyson occupied the bag. Dyson owned the bag, but got up and walked off thinking he was out. He was tagged, giving Escobar the bag. Fortunately, the Sox didn’t tag Escobar before Dyson decided to go hit the showers or it would have been a double play.
To no end, Butler hit a two-hopper to second and was thrown out before he was three steps out of the box.
NOTABLES: Billy Butler is hitting .295 in the month of May. The 2-3-4 hitters, Escobar-Hosmer-Butler, went 7-13 with four runs scored and four runs batted in. Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis each tossed scoreless innings to lower their ERAs to 1.27 and 1.86, respectively.