Friday was Royals night at Comiskey (or whatever soulless corporate moniker Chicago’s South-Side baseball club has attached to its otherwise very fine ballpark), as KC fans celebrated the end of an epic playoff drought. But Saturday was Paul Konerko night, and the White Sox partied like it was 2005, beating the Royals by a score of 5-4.
After a lengthy pre-game ceremony honoring the soon to be retired Konerko’s 16 years of sustained superior performance in a White Sox uniform, the Sox jumped all over Royals starter Danny Duffy right out of the box, scoring three runs — including a two-run shot by DH Jose Abreu — before he could even record the first out. Duffy would give up another run in the 2nd inning on a solo shot by catcher Josh Phegley.
By the time Abreu led off the bottom of the 3rd with a sharp single, Ned Yost had seen enough. With a quick hook, Duffy was replaced by Louis Coleman, who began a string of four scoreless innings of relief work by the Royals that also included appearances by Brandon Finnegan and Jason Frasor.
Meanwhile, Sox starter John Danks was in a stingy mood. The Royals scored a run in the 4th on a pair of singles and a fielders choice groundout. And another in the 7th on a solo shot by Salvador Perez, which made the score 4-2 Sox.
Recently recalled Royals lefty Tim Collins came on in the bottom of the 7th, and gave up another solo shot to Phegley – his second of the contest.
The Royals would make things interesting in the 8th, scoring a run on a walk and two straight singles by Alcides Escobar, Nori Aoki, and Lorenzo Cain, but Eric Hosmer swung at the first offering by reliever Eric Surkamp, grounding into a double play, and Billy Butler grounded out to third to end the threat with the score 5-3 Sox.
In spite of the loss, the Royals managed to clinch the top AL Wild Card spot – guaranteeing at least one home playoff game for the Kauffman faithful, because of the A’s loss to the Texas Rangers. KC is also still one game behind the Tigers for the Central Division lead, and can force a one-game winner-take-all match on Monday for the division title with a win Sunday combined with another Detroit loss to the Twins.
So hold onto your hats, and stay tuned for Sunday’s results to see whether a trip to lovely Detroit (if you go, just pray you don’t need an ambulance or a fireman) will be in order. Either way, some of us are going to see at least one playoff game in the nation’s heartland. Given my advanced age (especially my liver), I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get the opportunity. The only questions still to be answered is when, and against whom (probably Tuesday against the A’s).