Chicago White Sox fall to 1-8 with loss to the Kansas City Royals: ‘Guys are starting to get pissed’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chicago White Sox had a three-run lead Sunday against the Kansas City Royals and their top pitcher — Garrett Crochet — on the mound.

The lefty surrendered a two-run home run in the fifth. And the Royals got to the Sox bullpen during a three-run seventh to beat the Sox 5-3 in front of 14,251 at Kauffman Stadium.

The Sox were swept in the four-game series, falling to 1-8.

“Going up into the (Atlanta) Braves series, we had some tough one-run losses,” Crochet said. “That was disheartening but we knew we were playing good ball. But now at the end of the day, I think the guys are starting to realize we are not playing good enough ball and I think that guys are starting to get pissed.

“I think we need to turn the corner soon. Everybody has some evaluating to do, myself included. Today, going into the fifth, it was my second opportunity for a shutdown inning and I just let the guys down. If everybody kind of pulls together and can look introspectively, we’ll be able to get out of this. But we need to turn it on soon.”

Crochet allowed two runs on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks in five innings.

He didn’t allow a hit in the first four innings while the Sox built a 3-0 lead with two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth.

“Then it kind of spiraled on me a little bit,” Crochet said.

He gave up a single to Nelson Velázquez to begin the fifth inning. With one out, Hunter Renfroe homered to left on a 1-2 slider.

“All in all it was really one mistake to Renfroe, but I felt like I was battling myself all game,” Crochet said. “Fastball command wasn’t there so, relied on the slider a lot. It was doing a lot for me and I felt it was the right pitch to Renfroe. Threw it with conviction, just missed.

“I felt like I was still getting ahead. It was just when I’m missing that drastically with my fastball and it’s not really a competitive pitch, I have to rely on my other stuff. The slider was kind of my get-back-in-the-count pitch, my get-an-out pitch really the whole game. I’ve just got to make a better pitch there to Renfroe is all it comes down to.”

Crochet exited after the fifth, throwing 77 pitches.

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“He went six innings the first time out (87 pitches), seven innings the second time out (a career-high 93 pitches) and I wasn’t going to push him past 77 pitches today, I just wasn’t going to do it,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “He’s got the makings of a big-time starter. I just didn’t feel comfortable sending him back out for the sixth and continuing to push something that, we’re uncharted territory here.

“Every time he goes out there and starts, we’re in uncharted territory. We have to be cognizant of that and careful in how much we push.”

Crochet, after making the move from the bullpen to the rotation, has 21 strikeouts and just one walk this season.

“Been feeling good,” Crochet said. “Felt like I was battling some mechanical things today but I was still able to miss bats up until the fifth. That’s the one thing that I’m going to harp on myself is just making better pitches there late in the game. It was only the second time through the order, too. I feel like there’s a lot I still could have gone to and just didn’t execute.”

The Sox didn’t execute in a variety of ways in the seventh. Reliever Deivi García walked the leadoff batter and then surrendered a two-run home run to MJ Melendez as the Royals took a 4-3 lead. The Royals capitalized on fielding errors by center fielder Dominic Fletcher and reliever Dominic Leone for their final run.

The Sox head to Cleveland on a four-game losing streak.

“We should have brought that game home,” Grifol said.

According to the team’s postgame notes, the Sox have lost eight of their first nine games of the season for the second time in the 124-year history of the franchise (starting 0-10 in 1968). The Sox only won one of their first 11 games in 1974, but as an April 17, 1974, Tribune article with the title “Sox beaten again” pointed out, that included two ties.

“Getting pissed shows passion, and I think that at the end of the day, this is a game you have to play with passion,” Crochet said. “It’s a long season so you have to have fun with your teammates. You have to play the game hard.

“Getting pissed is normally the turning point for me as a pitcher. Kind of felt that way at different points throughout my career and normally helps me turn the corner. I think it can be useful for us.”