Matt Thornton was all set to be the scapegoat of this game, and it would be hard to argue it wasn't justified. Our culture might be overeager to focus on, quick, decisive individual failures rather than slow, agonizing collectives ones, but Thornton really made himself rather noticeable by single-handedly putting the go-ahead runner on base, moving him over with a wild pitch, and throwing the RBI double that knocked him in.
But then Nate Jones threw a 8th inning home run to Jeff Francouer to extend the Royals' lead to 3-1. Figuring that in, even if Thornton's actions could be erased, the game would still have been tied at 1. That really directed the focus to the fact that the White Sox only scored one run.
Most of the time, that's not going to be enough.
Certainly not times when the bullpen allows eight runs; or really nine when you consider that the run charged to Humber was inherited, and standing on 1st base with two outs. No, those are the times when it becomes clear that winning was never really an option.
Royals 9, White Sox 1
Philip Humber - 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 101 pitches - A return to form of sorts, especially with his curveball. Humber struggled a bit with control, but had none of the mistakes up in the zone that marred previous outings.
Eduardo Escobar - 2 for 4, 2B, K - When Escobar has an argument for the best hitting line of the day, it wasn't a particularly good day.
Paul Konerko - 1 for 2, RBI, 2 BB - The single he laced to left was one of the few times a White Sox hitter successfully pulled an inside fastball from Luis Mendoza.
White Sox bullpen - 2.1 IP, 4 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, HR - Perhaps not their best showing
Luis Mendoza - 5.2 IP, 7 H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K - After starter Danny Duffy left in the 1st inning with an injury, the Sox had an opportunity to feast on the junkballer/long reliever. Instead, he pitched around singles and busted the Chicago hitters inside until the late-inning arms could takeover.
Thornton came in with 2 outs in the 7th inning and a runner on 1st to face Jerome Dyson. Humber had been cruising, but with the Sox nursing a 1-0 lead, Ventura wanted the knockout matchup that was Thornton vs. a lefty hitter who never takes a walk.
Thornton walked Dyson.
I wasn't sure whether to make this the turning point, since the RBI double Thornton gave up in this inning wound up not meaning much. But seeing as the Sox were working on a shutout when Thornton came in, and gave up 9 runs in a little over two innings afterward, perhaps this is as clear as it gets.
Things Would Be Different If...
...Addison Reed didn't have the worst inning of his major league career. Reed stepped in, couldn't spot any of his secondary offerings and ended the day charged with 6 runs in a third of an inning. It's really hard to debate small details when one pitcher takes the game into his hands and flings it off the cliff.
The Sox lost another home series to an opponent with a horrible record. They scored one run in the final two games against a pitching staff with the 3rd worst ERA in the AL. They were shut down by Luis Mendoza, a pitcher kicked out of the Royals' much-maligned starting rotation.
Adam Dunn is back into his old form, Jake Peavy is a Cy Young candidate, Alex Rios is...playable, Alejandro De Aza has an argument to make the All-Star team that no one's going to listen to, and yet they're still three games under .500
Disconcerting, but it's also May, and all the other AL Central teams are pretty much doing the same thing.
Team Record: 16-19, 2.5 GB