Adam Engel dived trying to catch Emmanuel Rivera’s slicing liner in the sixth inning Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
The Chicago White Sox right fielder came up empty and slipped slightly as he got back to his feet. MJ Melendez scored from first as Rivera raced to third for an RBI triple.
The hit against reliever Reynaldo López gave the Kansas City Royals the lead. The Royals scored twice in the sixth and Melendez added a two-run homer off Ryan Burr in the eighth as they beat the Sox 6-2 in front of 13,504.
“I told (Engel) when he came in, don’t ever lose your aggressiveness,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “A couple plays (shortstop) Timmy (Anderson) made, the double play (first baseman José) Abreu made, (second baseman) Leury (García) made some good plays.
“You can’t be trying defensively and not trying offensively. It just doesn’t work that way.”
It was another inconsistent night for the offense. The Sox collected 10 hits, including three singles by Anderson, but went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position to fall one game under .500 (18-19).
“It’s not acceptable, if the offense is struggling, for the pitchers to say, ‘Hey, get some runs,’” La Russa said. “What’s acceptable is if the offense is trying their best. If that’s where we are, then we keep working at it. And if you see something that you think is not our best, then you fix it.
“Same thing as the pitching. You can’t just look at results and say, ‘Oh, why don’t you get somebody out?’ That’s not how we handle it. The fact is, though, that we’ve got to get out of this rut offensively. We’re working on it, hitter by hitter.”
The Sox produced early, taking a 1-0 lead on a two-out RBI single by García in the second. The Royals tied it with a run in the bottom of the inning and took the lead on a solo homer by Bobby Witt Jr. in the third against starter Lucas Giolito.
Giolito allowed two runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in five innings in his return from the COVID-19-related injured list. The right-hander went on the COVID IL on Friday and was reinstated Wednesday.
“Got into a much better rhythm as the game went on,” Giolito said. “Got clipped in the third inning on a lazy breaking ball, but other than that I was much more pleased with the last three than the first two. I credit the defense behind me and (catcher Yasmani Grandal) really carrying me through five innings, especially in the early going.
“Unbelievable plays by Tim and Abreu. (Grandal) throwing a guy out. Getting outs like that on situations where I could keep throwing more pitches, they really helped me get through five innings. Not my best, but I’m happy to be back, back in a normal routine.”
The Sox tied the game on an RBI single by Anderson in the fifth. His hit gave the Sox runners on first and second with one out, but Royals starter Zack Greinke struck out the next two batters.
The Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but reliever Collin Snider got Andrew Vaughn to ground out to end the threat.
“We had a lot (nine) left on base,” La Russa said. “Here’s the problem: I’m not giving a scouting report to the other side or our next opponent by identifying what we’re struggling with. But we can recognize it. That’s why we had a few minutes (after the game). (Hitting coaches) Frankie (Menechino) and Howie (Clark) were in (the manager’s office) talking about it.
“You don’t ever give in on it. We’re capable of better and we expect it.”
The Royals made the most of their chances in the sixth and eighth, dropping the Sox to 6-12 against American League Central opponents.
The Sox know they have to make offensive adjustments if they want to have success.
“All we care about is our issues,” La Russa said. “The answer is no easy answer. But our hitting coaches know our hitters, our hitters know our hitters. We’ll chip away at it.”