17,000 "faithful" Sox fans in attendence as Royals two-hit Chicago...
J.P. Howell threw a really nice game today as the Royals finally beat the White Sox in Chicago, 4-2. Howell wasn't terribly sharp, as he threw only 52 of 99 pitches for strikes en route to issuing five walks in six innings, but he managed to keep the ball down while working around trouble. We didn't see many curveballs from Howell tonight, as he appeared to work almost exclusively with his fastball and change-up.
This makes three straight strong starts for Howell since his promotion, and particularly impressive to us is that in the 18 innings he's pitched since then, he's yielded only 11 hits. He's still walking too many guys, but we're seeing a pretty acceptable strikeout rate of 7.5 per 9 IP. If Howell can keep this up, he'll enter next spring as a heavy favorite for a spot in the rotation.
Offensively, the Royals finally managed to push a few runs across the plate, mainly with the help of Angel Berroa, who hit his tenth homer of the season in the sixth inning. Berroa also flawlessy executed a squeeze play in the eighth inning to score Andres Blanco for an important insurance run. Emil Brown added a couple hits, including a missile into the gap for his 29th double, and AAAAron Guiel collected three more singles to raise his average to .271.
The bullpen trio of Andy Sisco, Ambiorix Burgos, and Mike MacDougal entered the game in the seventh inning and were perfect, minus one walk issued by Sisco. Burgos was as nasty as we've ever seen him, and MacDougal closed the door for his 18th save. That trio is becoming absolutely automatic, and they sure are fun to watch.
Up next for the Royals is the Tigers, who have now lost eight in a row to fall 12 games under .500. Zack Greinke gets the start, so we'll be hoping for a solid outing.
Also of note from High Desert, Chris Lubanski continued his tear by singling in his first four at bats of tonight's game. With his 4-for-4 performance on Wednesday, Lubanski had hits in eight straight at bats before flying out to left center in the eighth inning. He finished the night 5-for-6, so thus far in the California League playoffs, Lubanski is sporting an amazing .900 batting average (9-for-10).
Kila Kaaihue had a big homer in the eighth inning to bring the score to 10-9, and shortstop Angel Sanchez continued his hot pace by collecting two more hits in five at bats. Bernard Stephens, an organizational-type outfielder, hit two homers, including the big blow in the eighth inning that gave the Mavs the lead.