KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Glen Sparkman overcame some early struggles and settled down for his first career complete game and shutout.
Sparkman pitched a five-hitter, Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier both had three hits including a home run, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White sox 11-0 Tuesday night.
“My fastball command was shaky early on,” Sparkman said. “Couldn’t really locate it as much, and the curveball as well.”
He wasn’t about to leave the game before trying to finish it. Manager Ned Yost approached him after the eighth.
“He asked ‘How are you feeling?’ I said ‘I feel great,'” Sparkman said. “So, in the ninth he just said ‘Keep going.’ I was all adrenaline, and excited, so I kept going.”
Sparkman (3-5) finished with a career-high eight strikeouts and one walk in the Royals’ first complete-game shutout since June 2, 2017, when Jason Vargas beat Cleveland 4-0.
Kansas City improved to 4-1 since the All-Star break and dropped the White Sox to 0-5.
“We’re playing hard,” Chicago’s Charlie Tilson said. “Obviously, you’ve got to do a little better. It’s part of the game. I think the biggest thing is how you bounce back from it and continue to push and get back to where we need to be.”
Merrifield, hitting .379 (22 for 58) in a 14-game hitting streak, raced to an inside-the-park homer down the right-field line in the fourth inning after Cam Gallagher doubled. It was the fastest recorded this season in the MLB. Plate umpire Tom Hallion initially called Merrifield out on the play at home, but it was overturned after a quick replay review. That made the score 6-0 and gave Merrifield the 100th inside-the-park homer in Royals history.
“It was kind of a line drive down the line. I had a feeling it was going to stay fair and it did,” Merrifield said. “I saw him dive and miss it and I know that corner. If it’s in that corner, it can keep rolling and I knew I had a chance.”
Dozier hit a two-run, 447-foot homer to left field in the eighth inning to cap a four-run inning and finish the scoring.
Chicago starter Dylan Cease (1-1) gave up six runs — four earned — and eight hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
The White Sox had a rocky first inning as the Royals scored twice. Merrifield led off with long fly that was caught by center fielder Tilson as he collided with left fielder Eloy Jimenez, who went down in pain next to the wall. Jimenez was taken out with a sore right elbow.
Adalberto Mondesi followed with a single, and took second on Cease’s errant pickoff attempt. Mondesi then stole third and continued home when Yoan Moncada missed catcher James McCann’s throw. Alex Gordon followed with a single and scored on Hunter Dozier’s triple to right for a 2-0 lead.
A third White Sox error contributed to the Royals’ two-run third inning. After Mondesi singled, shortstop Leury Garcia fielded Gordon’s grounder, but threw wildly past second base, allowing Mondesi to score and Gordon to advance to third. Gordon was thrown out at the plate by second baseman Yolmer Sanchez but Bubba Starling’s single drove in Jorge Soler to push the lead to 4-0.
ROYALS CATCHING PLANS
Manager Ned Yost says plans to use both Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria in relatively equal parts after the trade that sent Martin Maldonado to the Cubs for pitcher Mike Montgomery. Gallagher, who started 25 games as Maldonado’s backup, was in the lineup against the White Sox on Tuesday night while Viloria just arrived from Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
“We’ll just kind of mix it up,” Yost said. “But I think on average, one will play four games one week and the other will play four games a week the next.”
Last year Viloria jumped from Class-A Wilmington to the majors on Sept. 1 and played 10 games, including seven starts as catcher.
“To be able to handle himself the way he did at the big league level behind the plate was pretty impressive,” Yost said.
White Sox: C Wellington Castillo (strained left oblique) returned from a five-game minor league rehab, replacing Zack Collins on the roster. “Swinging was the hardest thing to do, because I can catch, I can do all the other things. Hitting was the toughest to do,” Castillo said. … There’s no timetable for the return of shortstop Tim Anderson, out for three weeks with a right ankle sprain, according to manager Rick Renteria. “His strength is improving. He’s swinging, he’s taking BP on the field. He’s actually taking some ground balls, still in a controlled environment. He’s getting better every day,” Renteria said.
Royals: Mondesi left with an injury after a futile dive for a foul popup in the fifth inning. He left with a trainer cradling his left arm. He was to undergo an MRI.
White Sox: RHP Ivan Nova (4-8, 5.60 ERA) will make his 20th start of the season.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (3-5, 4.64 ERA) will make his first start since last Friday night when he left in the third inning after being bruised on the pitching hand by a line drive.