White Sox fall to Royals, drop to 6-12 in AL Central

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Central command?

How about Central outmanned.

With a 6-2 loss to the 14-22 Royals Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium, the White Sox fell to 6-12 in the AL Central, dropping below .500 with their second straight defeat that evened up a lengthy five-game series that concludes Thursday afternoon.

That’s hardly a path to a title the Sox were heavily favored to win.

In his first start after coming back from a bout with COVID-19, Lucas Giolito pitched five innings of two-run ball, striking out seven. After allowing a leadoff homer to Bobby Witt Jr. in the third, Giolito struck out six of seven batters, retired eight of the last 10 batters faced and left in a 2-2 tie.

Against Reynaldo Lopez in the sixth, the Royals got an RBI triple by Emmanuel Rivera past a diving Adam Engel right and a sacrifice fly by Kyle Isbel to make it 4-2. MJ Melendez hit his second homer of the series, a two-run shot against Ryan Burr, to make it 6-2.

Giolito landed on the COVID related injured list on May 13, three days after allowing one run on six hits in a season-high seven innings against the Guardians. He threw 92 pitches, 55 strikes against the Royals and left with a 2.84 ERA.

Tim Anderson’s RBI single against Royals starter Zack Greinke tied the game in the fifth. The Sox have scored three or fewer runs in five of their last six games.

Abreu searching for a groove

With four hits, three walks and no strikeouts in the series, Jose Abreu hoped to get his season jumpstarted after a supbar month and a half.

“I wasn’t planning on having that slow start, but those things happen,” Abreu said through a translator. “I’ve been working hard. I never put my head down. I’m just trying to get results. Hopefully sooner rather than later, I’ll start producing again.”

Abreu doubled and scored on Leury Garcia’s two-out single against Zack Greinke in the second for the Sox’ first run. But he was retired his next three times up, leaving Anderson stranded at second with an inning-ending groundout against Josh Staumont in the seventh.

After driving in two runs with a double in a 3-2 win in Game 1 Tuesday, Abreu got an unwanted rest from La Russa in the second game of a split doubleheader Tuesday.

“He’s the one who knows,” Abreu said. “I mean, how many wins does he have? 2,000-something. He knows how to take care of the guys.”

Eloy still building

More than three weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn hamstring tendon, Eloy Jimenez (hamstring) might be about two weeks away from a rehab stint.

“The biggest issue is the strength of that hamstring,” La Russa said. “They’re not convinced that it’s built up enough for everyday play.”

This and that

Michael Kopech (paternity list) will pitch Saturday in New York if his new baby is born in time, La Russa said, and Johnny Cueto will pitch Sunday with Dylan Cease getting extra rest. If not, Cueto will pitch Saturday and Cease Sunday.

*Lance Lynn, who went through fielding drills Wednesday, was transferred to the 60-day injured list. Lynn, who has been on the injured list since April 4 following surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right knee suffered during spring training, is eligible to be reinstated from the injured list on June 6.

*After pitching five innings of one-run ball in a spot start Tuesday, right-hander Davis Martin was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

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