KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Freddy Fermin had fouled off a couple of bunt attempts earlier in the week, yet Royals manager Matt Quatraro had no qualms about calling for another one with the backup catcher at the plate and a chance to beat the White Sox on Thursday.This time, Fermin's bunt was fair.
Nick Pratto immediately dashed home from third base, but the bunt was so perfectly executed that there was never even a play, and that allowed Kansas City to escape with a 4-3 victory over Chicago and its first home series win of the season.
“He stuck his nose in there and got it done,” Quatraro said. “It's a really hard play, if at all possible, to defense a safety squeeze unless you really sell out, and then you give up a free base. But to get that bunt down was really impressive.”
There have been two walk-off bunts in the majors this season. Both have come against the White Sox.
“We got outplayed in this series,” Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said after dropping three of four. "Flat out.”
The Royals nursed a 3-1 lead into the eighth, but the White Sox tied it with a two-out rally against Aroldis Chapman. Andrew Vaughn and pinch-hitter Carlos Pérez singled, and Luis Robert Jr. bounced a tying double off the chalk of the left-field line.
But in the ninth, Pratto worked a walk off Reynaldo López (0-3) before Maikel Garcia struck out. Matt Duffy followed with a single to right, and Fermin laid down a bunt that went about six feet in front of the plate.
“Just shows you the versatility of this team,” said the Royals' Michael Massey, “and the spectrum we can play on.”
Scott Barlow (1-2) pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn the win.
The Royals' Brady Singer has been struggling most of the season, allowing 19 runs in 19 innings in his first four home starts. But the young right-hander showcased better command and execution while cutting through the White Sox lineup Thursday.
He gave up Vaughn's two-out single in the third but lasted six innings and departed with a 3-1 lead.
Mike Clevinger was sharp, too, though that was expected against Kansas City. The right-hander with the funky delivery — who twice got nailed with pitch-clock violations — was 9-0 with a 1.98 ERA over his first 14 games against the Royals.
Clevinger also left after six innings Thursday, allowing three hits and two walks.
While the Royals never hit Clevinger hard, they did hit him enough. Massey followed his first homer of the season Wednesday night with a two-out shot in the second, and the Royals got a leadoff single by Edward Oliveras and a walk from Pratto before a double by Garcia into the left-field corner gave Kansas City a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
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