The pitch from Ervin Santana barely nicked the glove of Royals catcher Salvador Perez, bounding toward the backstop at Kauffman Stadium as Paul Konerko watched from third.
Then the ball simply disappeared.
Perez turned around with a perplexed look on his face. Santana threw up his arms in exasperation. Konerko started to trot toward home plate, still unsure of what was going on.
The passed ball had become lodged in the padding around the advertisements behind home plate, allowing Chicago to tack on its second run of the game. And the way John Danks was pitching, those two runs were all the White Sox needed in a 2-0 victory Tuesday night.
“I never seen anything like that,” Santana said. “I was looking at Salvy and he was looking at me. I was like, ‘Where’s the ball?’ He’s like, ‘I don’t know!’ It was hard.”
That’s the way it’s been for the Royals of late.
While the last-place White Sox have won four straight, the Royals have dropped three in a row after climbing into playoff contention. They’ve lost six of eight overall, with their only victories during that stretch coming in a doubleheader sweep of Detroit last week.
“We’re just not swinging the bats real well right now. We’ve never beaten Danks,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’re going to have to find a way to swing the bats better.”
Danks (3-10) ended an eight-start winless streak by scattering seven hits and a walk over eight innings. He helped himself by inducing a pair of double plays and picking off Chris Getz at first in the eighth inning, which Danks followed with two easy outs to get the game to Addison Reed.
The closer worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his 32nd save. It wrapped up the first shutout win for Chicago since a 3-0 victory against the Los Angeles Angels on May 17.
“It’s been a while. I just caught a couple breaks, was able to throw the ball over the plate and luckily we scored enough,” Danks said. “Especially within the strike zone, I made a couple pitches I got away with, but fortunately I had decent enough stuff.”
Gordon Beckham homered off Santana (8-7) in the first inning for the only earned run. The other run came in the second, when Konerko trotted home from third on that strange passed ball.
Konerko led off with a double, and Avisail Garcia singled to put runners on the corners. Santana was facing Conor Gillaspie when he threw a pitch that bounced off the tip of Perez’s glove, and then bounced toward the backstop behind home plate.
The ball disappeared in the green padding above one of the advertising signs, and Perez threw up his hands as if to say, “What now?” Meanwhile, Konerko had started to trot home with a confused look on his face, and for a moment nobody in the ballpark seemed to know what was going on.
“I mean, that stuff happens,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s one of those you lose in the tarp or the way they have advertising now, it’s just one of those that kind of goes your way.”
Kansas City’s bullpen pitched three shutout innings once Santana left the game, but its woeful offense couldn’t break through against Danks, who came into the game with a 4.54 ERA. He never allowed a runner to reach third base while winning for the first time since July 2.
“We weren’t doing anything offensively, and then he got ahead of us,” the Royals’ Alex Gordon said. “A lot of guys were taking, trying to get something going. But he was pounding the zone, throwing a lot of strikes.”
NOTES: Royals 3B Mike Moustakas (left calf) expects to play Wednesday, Yost said. ... White Sox 3B Jeff Keppinger (sore back) was a late scratch from the starting lineup. Gillaspie took his spot after missing two games with a bruised left hand. ... Royals OF Lorenzo Cain (oblique) is progressing with workouts but has not started baseball activities. ... White Sox RHP Andre Rienzo will start Wednesday night’s game against Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie.