Nick knocks: Rook shines with 4 hits

Af­ter 0-for-8 start, rookie Madri­gal raps four sin­gles to help Sox win 4th in row, sweep Roy­als

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN dvan­schouwen@sun­times.com | @CST_­sox­van

So much for worry over that

0-for-8 start.

And so much for worry af­ter the White Sox’ 1-4 start.

Se­cond base­man Nick Madri­gal, called up for his ma­jor-league de­but Fri­day, put two rough of­fen­sive days and a sleep­less kind of night be­hind him and rapped four con­sec­u­tive sin­gles Sun­day, pro­vid­ing a spark in the Sox’ 9-2 vic­tory over the Roy­als, a win that com­pleted their first se­ries sweep in Kansas City since 2015 and put them above .500 for the first time.

The Sox (5-4) take a four-game win­ning streak into Mil­wau­kee for games against the Brew­ers on Mon­day and Tues­day, and Madri­gal fig­ures to be in the lineup again. Against the Roy­als (3-7), the 5-7 rookie drafted fourth over­all in 2018 scored two runs and knocked one in with his fourth hit, a sin­gle in the Sox’ seven-run sev­enth in­ning that broke a tie game wide open. Madri­gal bat­ted twice in the in­ning as the Sox sent 11 bat­ters to the plate.

In the ninth, he was out at first on a close play, nearly beat­ing scram­bling first base­man Sal­vador Perez to the bag in a race for an in­field sin­gle that would’ve been hit No. 5.

“Gosh, I thought that one was through,” said Madri­gal, seem­ingly not sat­is­fied with four hits. “Then I’m cu­ri­ous to see a re­play on that. I thought it was go­ing to be close. I was shocked he made that play. At the end of the day, I kind of just laughed about it. But, yeah, it was close.”

Madri­gal’s first sin­gle was the most sharply hit, a liner to right against Roy­als starter Jakob Ju­nis.

“It’s hard when ev­ery­one knows that you haven’t got a hit yet, so they kind of joke with you, and the pres­sure builds up,” Madri­gal said. “And once I saw that first one fall, I felt the weight lifted off me def­i­nitely.

“I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, I’m go­ing to be hon­est with you. It’s some­thing I was think­ing about, and it’s a huge sigh of relief once I got the first one.”

Madri­gal also hit a soft liner to right and grounded two sin­gles through the mid­dle of the in­field.

“I felt like I had been see­ing the ball pretty well, just noth­ing to show for it,” he said. “I tried to stay pos­i­tive. I wasn’t get­ting down at all. Kind of just think­ing, ‘It’s go­ing to come around.’ ’’

Right-han­der Dy­lan Cease, bounc­ing back from a rough start against the In­di­ans in which he failed to fin­ish four in­nings, was much bet­ter, al­low­ing two runs, five hits and a walk in six in­nings. Cease struck out four and was more ef­fi­cient than his first start, throw­ing 83 pitches, 54 for strikes.

“The big­gest thing was I was I was a lit­tle bit more un­der con­trol, made sure I wasn’t rush­ing on the mound and just try­ing to be ag­gres­sive,” Cease said.

“I was able to throw my slider for strikes to­day. Just hav­ing a se­cond pitch that you can uti­lize like that is def­i­nitely huge.”

The Sox felt a sense of ur­gency even be­fore they started an ab­bre­vi­ated 60-game sea­son, then lost two of three to the Twins in the sea­son-open­ing se­ries and got swept in a dou­ble­header against the In­di­ans, but “no­body was pan­icked,” Cease said.

“The morale is way bet­ter,” Cease said. “We’re back over .500 now. We have enough vets on the team to calm ev­ery­one down. It def­i­nitely feels bet­ter to be on the pos­i­tive side of .500.”

The Sox cranked out 14 hits, none of them a home run, a day af­ter get­ting 21 in an 11-5 win. Yas­mani Gran­dal drove in three runs, and Nicky Del­monico had two RBI.

“It’s nice to see them all con­trib­ute,” man­ager Rick Ren­te­ria said. “Th­ese guys go out, they’re com­fort­able and re­laxed, and we just have to keep it go­ing.”

‘‘IT’S HARD WHEN EV­ERY­ONE KNOWS THAT YOU HAVEN’T GOT A HIT YET, SO THEY KIND OF JOKE WITH YOU, AND THE PRES­SURE BUILDS UP. AND ONCE I SAW THAT FIRST ONE FALL, I FELT THE WEIGHT LIFTED OFF ME DEF­I­NITELY.’’ NICK MADRI­GAL, Sox se­cond base­man

CHAR­LIE RIEDEL/AP

White Sox rookie se­cond base­man Nick Madri­gal fol­lows through on a sin­gle in the third in­ning Sun­day. He went 4-for-5 to lift his bat­ting av­er­age to .308.

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