White Sox use 4 homers to beat Royals
CHICAGO -- The White Sox offense decided to flex their muscles the same evening that the team let go of their hitting coach.
Chicago slugged four homers and the White Sox edged the Kansas City Royals 6-5 on Saturday night.
All 11 runs on the night were scored via the long ball as the teams combined to hit seven home runs.
Despite their proclivity for the home run on Saturday, the White Sox still had only scored 597 runs on the season, dead last in the American League. This coming a year after they scored 748 runs, good for fourth in the league.
"Looking at last year we hit a lot of home runs and at periods we won more games because we got runs faster," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Tonight was one of those. Both teams, it was instant. There wasn't a whole lot of manufacturing to get runs. Last year we had it, this year we didn't as much."
After the game, general manager Rick Hahn had nothing but good things to say about hitting coach Jeff Manto's work ethic and baseball knowledge, but the results led them to believe a new voice was necessary.
"Obviously, this has been a very disappointing season and one of the main areas of disappointment has been our offensive performance," Hahn said. "We are at the bottom of several important offensive categories, and it's our belief that the best way to continue to address some of those issues is to get a new voice in here to work with our hitters."
Saturday night was undoubtedly a different story for Chicago's offense.
The White Sox went back-to-back in the second inning to jump out to an early lead. After retiring the first two batters, Yordano Ventura threw one fastball too many to Marcus Semien, who deposited Ventura's third offering into the left-field bleachers. Jordan Danks followed with a solo shot of his own when he pounced on a fastball up in the strike zone, putting the White Sox up 2-0.
Adam Dunn added a two-run homer in the third to extend the Sox lead to 4-0.
Ventura (0-1), the flame-throwing rookie, lasted just four innings. He gave up six hits -- three of which left the yard -- and four runs.
Semien went 3-for-4 and finished the night a triple short of the cycle.
Semien, who hadn't learned of Manto's fate until talking to the media after the game, said the former hitting coach helped him immensely.
"I've learned a lot from him, even when I was in the minor leagues," Semien said. "He was the coordinator my first year. He taught me a lot about what to look for, what to do in certain situations. He helped me become a smarter player."
White Sox starter Erik Johnson was cruising along until Mike Moustakas broke up his no-hit bid with one down in the fifth, driving a solo home run into the right field bleachers.
Things quickly unraveled for Johnson from there, as Billy Butler brought the Royals right back in the sixth. After Eric Hosmer singled with one out, Butler pulled Johnson's first offering into the bleachers to bring Kansas City within one, 4-3.
"I just think he got tired," Butler said. "We started making him work, had longer at bats and he started getting some pitches up. He's got a good arm, but he got tired and started laboring a bit and we got a couple hits here and hit a couple balls out."
Johnson's (3-2) night ended two batters later, after he allowed a single to Salvador Perez and walked Moustakas. Charlie Leesman and Daniel Webb each struck out a man out and kept the Royals from putting more runs on the board in the inning.
Johnson tossed 5 1/3 innings, gave up three runs on five hits, while striking out four and walking three.
While the team was happy to avoid the 100-loss mark -- the victory left at 63-98 with one game to play -- Gordon Beckham couldn't help but feel that Manto was taking the blame for him and his teammates failures.
"Jeff can't go up there and hit for us," Beckham said. "It's our fault and the hitters take the blame. He'd still be here if we hit well."
While Hahn mentioned that the rest of the coaching staff was expected back, Beckham knew the changes to the roster may be coming as well.
"He's not the only one that might be gone," Beckham said. "A lot of us might, even the players. Nobody's guaranteed anything after this year."
NOTES: The Royals' bullpen is close to setting a team record for ERA. Entering Saturday, the bullpen had a 2.55 ERA, which would easily top their previous mark of 2.80 in the strike-shortened season of 1981. ... Prior to the game, White Sox manager Robin Ventura was asked about trying to avoid 100 losses. "Nobody wants that -- a 100 losses. It doesn't feel good," Ventura said. "But it's not going to make me feel any better to have 99." ... Addison Reed worked the night to pick up the save and joined Bobby Jenks, Keith Foulke and current bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen as the only pitchers to reach 40 saves in a season for the South Siders. ... The White Sox and Royals wrap up the season with Jose Quintana (9-6, 3.45) taking on Bruce Chen (8-4, 3.31) at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT