CHICAGO — Royals’ hitters are going to miss Guaranteed Rate Field.
As they held on for their fourth straight series win with a 6-3 victory over the White Sox on Thursday afternoon, the Royals once again relied on the long ball.
The last time Kansas City won four straight series was in June 2017, when it won five in a row against the Padres, Giants, Angels, Red Sox, Blue Jays.
“Hopefully we’re playing better ball right now,” manager Ned Yost said. “We’re playing teams we match up against pretty well. It will be tough from here on with Houston, Oakland, MInnesota and Atlanta [remaining on the schedule]. It’s going to be teams fighting for division championships or Wild Cards. It’s going to be tough series. I’ll be interested to see how we match up.”
Third baseman Hunter Dozier delivered the big knock, a three-run home run off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito that broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning. It was Dozier’s 26th home run this season.
“That was the big blow,” Yost said.
Dozier had struck out twice against Giolito earlier and he had not looked particularly good.
“I think I was just thinking a little bit too much the first two at-bats,” Dozier said. “He’s a heck of a pitcher. He’s been tough on us all year. I was just trying to slow it down, get back to my approach, and I just reacted on a ball in and put a good swing on it.
“It definitely feels good to hit a ball like that, and definitely in that situation.”
Designated hitter Jorge Soler also homered, a solo shot in the first that traveled a projected 446 feet, according to Statcast. His 44th of the season moved him one behind Angels slugger Mike Trout for the American League lead.
Giolito, who came into the game 6-1 with a 2.34 ERA over his career against the Royals, was dominating in a stretch before Dozier’s home run. At one point, Giolito struck out eight straight — a White Sox record — before Nicky Lopez’s groundout ended the streak.
“I stood up and screamed like we hit a game-winning homer when we just grounded out,” Yost said. “I didn’t want to see nine consecutive strikeouts. Giolito has been tough on us all year long. The improvements he has made have been impressive. His development as a pitcher is probably the most impressive thing I’ve seen all year long.”
The Royals scored 17 runs in the series, 15 of them coming via the home run. In all, the team hit 10 homers over the three games.
“I think we’re just playing with confidence right now and trying to finish the year out strong,” Dozier said.
Royals starter Jorge Lopez grinded through 5 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and two earned runs, while lefties Tim Hill and Gabe Speier were excellent in relief.
Hill came on in the bottom of the sixth, facing the potential tying run at the plate with one out. He struck out the only two hitters he faced. Then, with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh, Speier struck out pinch-hitter Leury Garcia.
“Probably the most impressive thing for me was Speier coming in and getting the strikeout,” Yost said. “I knew they were going to pinch-hit for [Daniel] Palka, who was two-for-fiftysomething, but he’s got power and he can take you out of the ballpark. I needed a fresh arm and that was the first big crucial situation for Speier, and he handled it wonderfully. Struck him out.”
Speier, who was just promoted to the big leagues earlier this month, said he definitely was pumped up for his first high-leverage situation.
“Definitely had [some adrenaline],” Speier said. “I felt like I had it under control, though.
My approach was just to attack [Garcia]. I knew he’d be aggressive. I got ahead of him with a breaking ball and was able to put him away with an elevated fastball.
“It feels good to contribute to a big league win. No doubt.”