James Shields got victory No. 100. Jamey Carroll got hit No. 1,000. And Alex Gordon made a catch that seems likely to enjoy a long life in highlight reels (or whatever they’re called in the digital age).
Not a bad way for the Royals to start the season’s final weekend.
Shields wrapped up his season by working seven strong innings in a 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. He yielded just four hits and matched a season high with 10 strikeouts.
Carroll’s milestone came on a double in the fourth inning as part of a balanced 14-hit attack that supported Shields and boosted the Royals to 85-75 with two games remaining.
Those 85 victories are the most by the Royals since they finished 92-70 in 1989. Getting to 10 games over .500 matched a season best.
But Gordon stole the show.
The Royals led 6-0 when Shields began the sixth inning by striking out Jordan Danks before losing his shutout when Gordon Beckham sent a homer beyond Gordon’s reach at the left-field wall.
Alexei Ramirez, who already had two hits against Shields, sent another drive to deep left. Gordon retreated to the wall in front of the White Sox’s bullpen, leaped and came down without the ball.
As Ramirez rounded the bases, and fireworks went off, Gordon planted his feet and made a nonchalant catch. Ramirez stared in disbelief. Shields broke into a wide grin. And the crowd of 24,474 muted into silence.
Shields, 13-9, completed the inning and worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh before Wade Davis closed out the victory with two scoreless innings.
The Royals whacked Chicago ace Chris Sale, a rarity, for four runs and nine hits in before he departed after 5 1/3 innings with nobody on base. They then jumped Jacob Petricka for two more runs before the inning ended.
Alcides Escobar singled and scored on Gordon’s double, and Gordon scored on Emilio Bonifacio’s second RBI single of the game. The Royals led 6-0.
All prelude to what happened later in the inning.
The Royals jumped Sale, 11-14, for three runs in the first inning after Bonifacio drew a one-out walk and stole second.
Eric Hosmer flared a single to right, but Bonifacio had to hold up to make sure the ball dropped and only reached third. Both runners scored when Billy Butler drove a double into the right-center gap.
Salvy Perez’s single through the left side move Butler to third. Sale struck out Justin Maxwell, but Lorenzo Cain pulled an RBI single to left for a 3-0 lead.
Those three runs topped what the Royals managed in three previous games this season against Sale: two runs in 24 innings.
Carroll just missed a one-out homer in the fourth inning but settled for a double off the wall — and the 1,000th hit of his career. It turned into a run when Bonifacio delivered an two-out RBI single.
Shields retired eight in a row after Ramirez’s two-out single in the first inning before Ramirez yanked a one-out grounder past third in the fourth that went into the left-field corner for a triple.
It came to nothing. Shields struck out Adam Dunn and retired Paul Konerko on a routine fly to right.