CHICAGO (TNS) — On May 29 at Kauffman Stadium, Whit Merrifield came one single away from the seventh cycle in Royals history, missing a changeup in his final at-bat against the Detroit Tigers.
It was a once-in-a-career moment, one at-bat to leave his stamp on franchise history, a home crowd standing and cheering and recognizing the moment. Seventy-six days later, the opportunity came again on a Sunday afternoon here at Guaranteed Rate Field.
In the Royals' 14-6 clobbering of the Chicago White Sox, Merrifield clubbed a three-run blast to left-center in the third inning, ripped a single in the fifth and added two-run triple into the right-center gap in the sixth.
He dug in at the plate in the eighth against Chicago reliever Brad Golberg, needing just a double for the cycle. He took a 97 mph sinker for strike one before popping out on a slider. So, yes, history will be put on hold for now. Yet the rest of the afternoon went just about right.
The Royals (59-58) secured their first series victory since winning two of three in Boston in the final days of July. In two days, they stopped a five-game losing streak, brushed off a 2-10 stretch and won their final two games here on the South Side of Chicago, pounding out 16 hits and putting up their third-highest run total of the season. (They twice have scored 16 runs.)
Merrifield finished 3 for 6 with a career-high five RBIs. Catcher Drew Butera had the first four-hit game of his career. And rookie outfielder Jorge Bonifacio broke out of a 3-for-28 skid with a booming solo homer in the third off White Sox starter Derek Holland and an RBI single in the sixth.
The offense bludgeoned Holland for seven runs in two-plus innings, forcing Chicago manager Rick Renteria to turn to Wichita native Mike Pelfrey. The move offered a decent look at the state of the White Sox pitching staff.
Pelfrey allowed a run in three innings before the Royals continued to batter the Chicago bullpen.
Royals starter Jason Vargas surrendered three runs in sixth innings, improving to 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA. The Royals pushed a game ahead of .500 and remained in the heart of a wide-open American League wild-card race. They pulled within a half game of the Minnesota Twins (59-57) and Los Angeles Angels (60-58) for the second position as the Angels faced off against the Seattle Mariners (59-59) on late Sunday afternoon.
They will attempt to carry the momentum into a three-game series in Oakland on Monday.