CHICAGO (TNS) — Now is not the time for bold proclamations.
The young Royals players getting regular cracks at the starting lineup are still searching for firm footing in the major leagues. They're still juggling the continuous lessons with the grind of playing at this level. They still haven't gotten anything figured out.
But as the Royals beat the White Sox, 10-5, at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday night, there were a multitude of signs to be encouraged by.
New outfielder Brett Phillips showcased his speed scoring from second base on a head-first dive after Ryan O'Hearn, who was called up Tuesday, scorched a single to left field in the fourth inning. Three days after hitting his first major-league home run at Yankee Stadium, Rosell Herrera flaunted some power from the right side when he ripped an RBI ground-rule double to the left-field corner off lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno in the fifth.
"You've gotta get to a point where _ and they all, to a man, in there think they can be good or else they wouldn't be here," manager Ned Yost said before the game. "But you gotta get to a point where you know in your heart that you're good and that you can compete, and that you're ingrained here. That takes time. You gain that through experience and through success and getting it done."
Wednesday's victory should serve as a means to that end.
Starting pitcher Jakob Junis' first pitch of the game was yanked into the right-field Craft Kave, the same area of the field where newcomer O'Hearn dumped his first major-league hit Tuesday night, by Yoan Moncada. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead on the homer, which was the 26th Junis allowed this season. Junis would be charged four runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
But a mixture of players from both the old and new guards ensured Junis' winless streak, which dated to a May 23 no-decision in St. Louis, wouldn't continue for an 11th consecutive start. O'Hearn, Herrera and Phillips combined with Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez, who caught two players trying to steal second base, to keep the Royals offense churning along.
First baseman Lucas Duda chipped in with an RBI single in the fifth; shortstop Adalberto Mondesi laid down a sacrifice bunt in the third, reached on an error and scored on Gordon's two-run double two batters later. Mondesi scored a second time when Gordon launched his seventh homer of the season into the right-field bullpen in the sixth.
Those are the signs of progress a cellar-dwelling team looks for in a lost season. There were plenty to go around as the Royals improved to 34-73.