Raw power and stalwart pitching trumped a lack of fundamental play on Wednesday afternoon.
The White Sox overcame a sloppy performance with four home runs and a strong effort from Jake Peavy and the bullpen in a 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in front of 14,213 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Tyler Flowers put the White Sox ahead for good in the third inning with his second homer while Adam Dunn, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo each hit their first round-trippers to help the South Siders overcome three errors.
Peavy limited the Royals to two runs (one earned) and four hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked none as the White Sox are off to a 2-0 start for the third time in nine seasons.
“A bad team, or a team without as much confidence or as tight as we are, brothers, so to speak, stuff can get away from you,” Peavy said. “We can get into the dugout and laugh it off and say ‘Let’s go,’ and let it go. And we did it numerous times today. Just rallying and saying, ‘This isn’t going to beat us.’ ”
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A defense that led the American League with a .988 fielding percentage last season nearly allowed the Royals to rally in the seventh inning after Peavy had exited.
Left fielder Dewayne Wise, who replaced Viciedo, made a two-base error on Eric Hosmer’s fly ball to start the rally. Lorenzo Cain then singled into shallow right field off Jesse Crain to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Crain then struck out Jeff Francouer, but Donnie Veal walked Miguel Tejada to load the bases. Veal avoided trouble, however, when Alex Gordon’s fly ball to left field wasn’t deep enough to allow Hosmer to tag. Matt Lindstrom ended the inning when he retired Alcides Escobar on a fly out to right.
Lindstrom, Matt Thornton and Addison Reed recorded the final seven outs as the bullpen delivered three scoreless innings.
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The Royals earlier tied the game at 1 in the third inning when Ramirez and Viciedo collided in shallow left to allow Chris Getz’s fly ball to fall harmlessly. Later in the inning, Viciedo overran Escobar’s single and Getz scored all the way from first.
The miscues also extended to the bases, as Flowers was thrown out at home trying to score on a ball that kicked away from Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez.
“It wasn’t what we are looking for defensively,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Jake competes … he just tried to get through it and minimize it. We definitely want to get better defense.”
There was little to complain about with the White Sox offense.
Dunn put his team ahead 1-0 in the second inning with a 431-foot solo home run off Ervin Santana (0-1). Flowers later regained the lead in the third with a 389-foot homer. Viciedo’s two-run homer in the fourth, a ball that Gordon nearly robbed, put the White Sox up 4-1. Ramirez added his solo homer in the seventh to extend the lead to 5-2.
The support appeared to put Peavy in line for an easy victory. Although his stuff wasn’t great, the right-hander said good command helped him limit the Royals. Peavy (1-0) struck out five of the first seven batters he faced and threw strikes on 76 of 107 pitches.
Flowers was impressed with the way Peavy established his fastball early and worked from there. As for his own start as he takes over for A.J. Pierzynski, Flowers, who is 3-for-6 with two go-ahead home runs, was quick to remind everyone it has only been two games.
“That makes it’s easier,” Flowers said. “But again, the rest of the team did their jobs well. Pitchers performed very well again, bullpen guys came in and did their job and picked each other up. It was a good team win.”