Good things usually happen when the White Sox hit multiple home runs.
But not on Tuesday, when they fell 9-7 to the Royals for their fifth loss in a row and for the 10th time in 12 games, dropping the Sox (63-66) six games behind first-place Guardians in the AL Central. Even when they do something right lately, the Sox sink even lower.
Ranked 13th in the American League with 108 home runs, the Sox got a three-run homer from Gavin Sheets in the fifth, a two-run shot from Sheets in the ninth and a solo shot from Eloy Jimenez in the eighth but fell to 19-5 when they hit two homers or more. The Royals (53-77) hit four home runs.
Sheets’ blast against Brady Singer highlighted a four-run inning and turned a 5-0 deficit turned into a one-run game.
But bad things happen when the Sox outfield defense is exposed, as well. A half inning after his homer, Sheets attempted a diving catch of Michael Taylor’s bloop with two outs and the bases loaded after right-hander Jimmy Lambert replaced lefty Tanner Banks. The ball dropped for a two-run single, and the Sox’ one-run deficit turned into three.
Sheets and outfielder Andrew Vaughn, both converted first basemen playing positions that require covering ground, have done OK considering they were pressed into outfield action due to the Sox’ roster construction deficiencies. Over and again this season, balls have dropped for hits that would be caught by other teams’ outfields.
Per FanGraphs, Sheets (minus-8) and Vaughn (minus-6) rank last and next to last in defensive runs saved among AL outfielders.
Sheets, who made his 53rd start in right field, was batting .368/.367/.579 six doubles in August. The homers were his fourth and fifth of the month, and he has 18 RBI in August.
Lucas Giolito gave up five runs on two walks and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, allowing two home runs to Nick Pratto and one to Salvador Perez on an opposite field poke inside the right-field foul pole.
Giolito (5.27 ERA) was coming off a one-run performance over 6 1/3 innings in his last outing in Baltimore. His home ERA over his last nine starts is 9.00.
Taylor homered against reliever Joe Kelly.
Catcher Yasmani Grandal was with the team Tuesday and will be reinstated from the 10-day injured list Wednesday, the first day he is eligible.
Catcher Carlos Perez is expected to return to Triple-A Charlotte, where Grandal went 5-for- 11 (.455) with one home run in three games at his rehab assignment at Charlotte.
Robert still out
Luis Robert missed his fourth straight game with a sore wrist, leaving the Sox without Robert, Grandal, Yoan Moncada (hamstring) and Tim Anderson.
Robert’s “swing is a concern so he’s not starting,” La Russa said.
“When he can swing normally is when he’s going to be in there. He’s getting his strength back. Some of the swings he’s taking are looking more normal.”
This and that
Left-hander Aaron Bummer was sent to Charlotte for an injury rehab assignment. Bummer, has been on the 15-day injured list since June 9 with a strained left lat.
*Thursday’s game against the Royals at 1:10 p.m. is a YouTube exclusive national broadcast (no NBC Sports Chicago). Scott Braun and Yonder Alonso will be on the call.
*Former right-hander Bob Locker, who pitched for the Sox (1965-69) and Cubs (1973, 1975) during a 10-year career, died at 84. Locker owned 57-39 career record with a 2.75 ERA.