Offense goes cold as Sox shut out by Royals

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Offense goes cold as Sox shut out by Royals

CHICAGO -- Luke Hochevar allowed three hits in seven shutout innings Saturday night and the Kansas City Royals scored three first-inning runs off Chris Sale to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-0.Hochevar (3-3) cruised as the White Sox mustered only one real scoring threat against him all night. That came in the second on a walk and single by Alex Rios before Alexei Ramirez hit into a double play.Hochevar walked one and struck out five, and his strong effort came after two rough outings against Detroit and New York Yankees when he surrendered a total of 19 hits and 16 runs in 6 1-3 innings. Greg Holland pitched the eighth and Aaron Crow walked two in the ninth before completing the shutout.Sale (3-2), returning to the rotation after a one-appearance stint in the bullpen with a sore elbow, made his first start since May 1 and lasted five innings. The Royals sent nine batters to the plate in the first with Sale's early wildness a major factor and an error on second baseman Gordon Beckham also hurting the White Sox.Sale's first seven pitches were balls and he walked the first two batters before giving up a single to Alex Gordon that loaded the bases. Billy Butler then drove a ball into the right field corner, but when baserunner Johnny Giavotella didn't get a good break off second, just one run scored and the bases remained full.When Jeff Francoeur grounded to Beckham on a perfect double-play ball, Beckham touched second and threw wildly past first for an error and two runs scored for the Royals. An infield single by Eric Hosmer and bloop single by Irvin Falu re-loaded the bases before Sale escaped after throwing 42 pitches in the opening inning.Sale then settled down and retired nine straight at one point. He gave up seven hits and the three runs during his 103-pitch outing with two walks and three strikeouts.Alcides Escobar delivered a two-out RBI double in the eighth for Kansas City and scored on a single by Humberto Quintero.Notes:
The start of the game was delayed 56 minutes by rain. ... The teams reversed scores from Friday night's opener when the White Sox won 5-0. ... Royals reinstated right-handed reliever Greg Holland (rib cage) from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Nate Adcock to Triple-A Omaha. K.C. also signed veteran left-hander Doug Davis to a minor league deal. ... Chicago 3B Brent Morel, bothered by disc problem in his back, returned to the lineup after missing two games.

Improved defense high on list of White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada this spring

Improved defense high on list of White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada this spring

MESA, Ariz. — Yoan Moncada applied some of his early work in camp to the field on Monday afternoon when he started a double play with a spectacular diving stop.

In his first start of the spring, the White Sox second baseman's dazzling play helped pitcher Lucas Giolito out of a first-inning jam. Moncada struck out in his only plate appearances as the White Sox and Cubs finished in a 4-4 tie in nine innings at Sloan Park.

"Definitely that play was unbelievable," Giolito said. "It really helped me get out of that inning. They had the momentum going, guys on base, nobody out. (Moncada) makes a play like that and they turn the double play, it's fantastic. It's really good defense to have behind you."

The top player acquired in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada has been described by some as not having a set position. There's a thought he might be better suited for third base or perhaps even center field. But Moncada prefers second base and that's where the White Sox intend to give him a chance.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said earlier this spring that Moncada has all the requisite tools needed to play second base, he just needs to fine tune. Renteria said the biggest area of refinement is footwork and getting Moncada to take less circular routes to the ball.

Moncada feels good about the work he's put in so far.

"It's nothing really hard, but you have to make adjustments," Moncada said through an interpreter. "I'm trying to have my legs a little more open. That's work we're doing right now on my defense.

"My focus is just to try to get better in every aspect of the game, my offense, my defense, my baserunning too. It's the mentality we have here right now, and I'm just trying to take advantage of it."

Moncada has appeared in all three White Sox games this spring. He's 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk. 

Prospect Lucas Giolito debuts for White Sox in tie against Cubs

Prospect Lucas Giolito debuts for White Sox in tie against Cubs

MESA, Ariz. — One of the main points of emphasis for Lucas Giolito this spring is to consistently throw his curveball for strikes so hitters respect it.

The White Sox prospect was partly pleased with how he commanded his offspeed pitch on Monday as he debuted in a 4-4 tie between the White Sox and Cubs at Sloan Park. Giolito allowed a run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings pitched. He also surrendered a long home run to Addison Russell.

"I'd say in the first inning, I did an OK job of commanding a curveball for a strike," Giolito said. "I feel like when I throw it for a strike and can show I can throw it for a strike, that's when I can get more swings on it. The second inning, I kind of got away from it. I was kind of yanking them, throwing a lot in the dirt low and away, and a big-league hitter is just going to spit on that. I'm just going to continue to work on that, throwing a curveball for a strike, commanding a fastball especially down and away to righties."

The team's top pitching prospect was pleased with how he commanded his fastball in to righties and away to left-handed hitters. He also was happy with his changeup.

Beyond that, Giolito displayed some fight when he worked his way into trouble. Courtesy of a nice diving stop by Yoan Moncada, Giolito induced a double play off Anthony Rizzo's bat after Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant singled to start the bottom of the first inning. Following Russell's no-doubt homer in the second inning, Giolito struck out Miguel Montero and Willson Contreras and worked around a two-out walk.

"I didn't really translate the stuff I was doing in the 'pen, the stuff I've been working on very well in the game," Giolito said. "I got into the game, and it's a pretty packed stadium, adrenaline going, I got a little quick, got a little ahead of myself and missed, especially with the four-seam fastball. I missed quite a few. Obviously the homer, the line drive, you could see where the misses were."

"I did a better job today throwing fastballs away to lefties and inside to righties than the opposite. So we continue to work on that in the pen, but I'll have plenty more opportunities, a lot of stuff to work on in the spring."

[RELATED: Facing Cubs for first time, Rick Renteria happy with White Sox]

Jose Abreu homered and singled and drove in two runs in three at-bats and Tim Anderson doubled in a run and singled in three trips. Afterward, Abreu left the team for personal reasons to return to Miami. He's expected to be back in camp on Wednesday.

Juan Minaya struck out four batters in two scoreless innings in relief to keep the score tied.

Third baseman Todd Frazier took 35 swings and 35 ground balls prior to Monday's game. Frazier, who has a mild oblique strain, said he's made good progress since he hurt himself last Monday.

"Feeling good," Frazier said. "See how we feel tomorrow, you never know. Some people don't believe mild strain, but it really was. Work in slow, but when I get in game, get in game.

"Could be a couple of days, could be five or six or after off day. Don't need much time. At the back end of March we'll be getting after it."