The Chicago White Sox look to match their longest winning streak of the season as they host the Kansas City Royals in the second portion of a three-game series in the Windy City.
The White Sox won only seven of 18 versus the Royals last season, their worst record against the club since a 5-7 mark 12 years ago. The 11 losses were also the most they had against Kansas City since dropping 12 meetings to the franchise in 1973.
Chris Sale (3-1) has had a very exciting couple of days. The White Sox pitcher returns to the mound tonight just over a week after being moved to the bullpen to serve as the team's closer.
Sale was excellent this season as a starter, going 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his five starts, but he was shifted to a relief role after concerns about soreness in his throwing elbow surfaced.
"The forcefulness in which he wanted to get back on the mound told us something. It told us the soreness wasn't something he felt was painful enough where we had to pull the plug on him," general manager Ken Williams said.
Sale's move to the bullpen only indicates how important the ballclub feels he is to its future. The young pitcher has limited opponents to a .205 batting average and fanned 30 opponents so far this season.
The White Sox would love for Sale to duplicate Gavin Floyd's outing from Friday's 5-0 win over the Royals. Floyd held Kansas City scoreless for 7 2/3 innings in which he allowed only five hits.
Floyd's excellent pitching was paired with Adam Dunn's continued success. The White Sox designated hitter hit a home run, doubled, drew a pair of walks, and ended a streak of 36 games with a strike out.
"I'm having one of those starts to a season that I expect to," said Dunn, who has team-highs of 11 home runs and 26 RBI this season.
The chances of Dunn's success continuing tonight are high as the Royals send Luke Hochevar (2-3) to the mound. Hochevar has given up 16 earned runs in his last 6 1/3 innings. The Royals' right-hander gave up seven earned runs and two home runs in only 2 1/3 innings versus the Yankees on Sunday before being pulled.
"He didn't execute the pitches, didn't make good pitches on days that he got hit, and did execute and make good pitches when he pitched really well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's just a matter of consistency, getting into a solid, consistent pattern of executing your pitches."
Saturday will be Hochevar's 10th career start against the White Sox. He's 3-4 with a 4.40 ERA in his career against Chicago.
Designated hitter Billy Butler has been successful over the course of his career versus the White Sox. However, Butler was held hitless and struck out twice in his four plate appearances in the series opener on Friday.