ROBERT AL­READY THE REAL DEAL

ROOKIE OUT­FIELDER making big im­pres­sion at plate for sox, who beat roy­als with­out hit­ting hr to move BACK INTO first place

Chicago Sun-Times - - SOX BEAT - BY MARK POTASH | mpotash@sun­times.com | @markpotash

Even when it seems like it’s just not his night, Luis Robert can cre­ate a buzz with one swing of the bat. He’s that kind of player.

As the White Sox pre­pared to play the sec­ond game of their se­ries against the Roy­als on Fri­day night — a 7-4 vic­tory that moved them back into first place in the AL Cen­tral — Robert’s 485-foot blast still was re­ver­ber­at­ing. The ex­cite­ment about the rookie out­fielder’s big mo­ments is pal­pa­ble.

“I’d be ly­ing if I said I was sur­prised,” said out­fielder Adam En­gel, whose agape, ‘Oh my god’ re­ac­tion was a per­fect punc­tu­a­tion of the mo­ment. “I just wanted to see where it was go­ing to land. This is a re­ally big park and he made it look small.”

Un­til the big home run, Robert was hav­ing a frus­trat­ing night. He had a walk, a fly out and a pop out in his first three at-bats and just missed making two out­stand­ing plays in the out­field. He nearly made a leap­ing grab of a deep fly ball by Maikel Franco that was in his glove but popped out against the cen­ter field wall for a dou­ble. He also made a div­ing at­tempt at a liner by Alex Gor­don that went for an­other dou­ble.

Then, boom.

“He’s an im­pres­sive player and we get to see him do stuff . . . once a night and most guys do some­thing that cool once in their ca­reer,” En­gel said. “This kid’s do­ing it a lot and he’s still young and he’s still pol­ish­ing his game and I can’t imag­ine how good he’s go­ing to be.

“He’s got a lit­tle room for im­prove­ment and I don’t even know what that’s go­ing to look like. See­ing him do stuff like last night — man, this guy is one of the best play­ers in the game right now and he’s only go­ing to get bet­ter. It’s fun to watch him play.”

The Sox (24-15), who lead the Amer­i­can League with 68 home runs, won Fri­day night with­out hit­ting a home run for only the fourth time this sea­son.

They still had 14 hits, in­clud­ing 12 sin­gles. The Sox, who are 4-5 when they don’t hit a homer and 20-10 when they do, have a halfgame lead over the In­di­ans (23-15) and Twins (24-16).

The Sox chipped away with runs in the first (Ed­win En­car­na­cion’s sac­ri­fice fly), sec­ond (Nick Madri­gal’s in­field sin­gle), fourth (Tim An­der­son’s sac­ri­fice fly) and fifth (En­car­na­cion scor­ing on a wild pitch).

Jose Abreu con­tin­ued his MVP run with a two-out, two-run dou­ble in the sixth in­ning to ex­tend his hit­ting streak to 18 games and give him a league-lead­ing 38 RBIs.

Starter Dane Dun­ning, who threw five shutout in­nings Sun­day against the Roy­als, strug­gled with his com­mand but kept the Sox in the game with a gutty ef­fort. He al­lowed three runs, five hits and four walks in 4⅔ in­nings. Codi Heuer re­lieved Dun­ning with two out and two on in the fifth in­ning and in­duced Nicky Lopez to bounce out to Madri­gal at sec­ond to pro­tect a 4-3 lead.

With the Sox lead­ing 7-3, the Roy­als ral­lied with two outs in the eighth against Matt Foster. Closer Alex Colome came in and al­lowed a walk to loaded the bases, but struck out Whit Mer­ri­field to end the threat. Colome al­lowed a run in the ninth and faced the ty­ing run with two outs, but re­tired Ryan McB­room on a ground out for his eighth save in nine op­por­tu­ni­ties this sea­son. ✶

GETTY IM­AGES

No­mar Mazara scores past Roy­als catcher Meibrys Vilo­ria on Tim An­der­son’s sac­ri­fice fly in the fourth in­ning Fri­day.

Luis Robert

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