The Kansas City Royals have a big obstacle standing in the way of their fifth straight win as they take on the Chicago White Sox in the second of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
The talented southpaw Chris Sale will be on the mound on Saturday for the White Sox, who were defeated, 5-1, in the opener. Sale has been consistently effective for Chicago, not allowing more than three earned runs in any of his past five starts. A lack of run support is the primary reason the All-Star ace has just one win in his last nine games. Sale was the winning pitcher of the Midsummer Classic before taking a loss on Monday despite limiting the Tigers to just two earned runs and fanning 11 batters in eight innings.
Chicago will need to figure out a way to generate more offensively to help out Sale. On Friday, Conor Gillaspie's homer in the eighth was the lone score for the White Sox, who have lost four of their last five games.
"Offensively, guys were swinging it, hitting it hard, a lot of chances," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "That's just the way it goes. Unfortunately, that's the way it was and late, it just kind of unravels."
Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Josh Phegley all went hitless in a combined 11 at-bats in the series opening loss. Beckham was making his return to the lineup after missing five games with a strained ligament in his left wrist.
Adam Dunn has hit one single in three-straight games and has just two extra base hits in his last 13 appearances. Alexei Ramirez has gone 2-for-4 in back- to-back games.
Ramirez may have trouble continuing that streak as he has a .188 career average against Royals starter Wade Davis. The 6-foot-5 righty is coming off of his second shortest outing of the season. Davis had trouble with his control as he gave up four runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings against Baltimore on Monday. The 27-year old starter has taken a loss in four-straight games and has a 7.98 ERA in July.
Kansas City has been playing with confidence since the break with six wins in eight games. Right fielder David Lough led the offense on Friday by going 2- for-3 with a home run and two RBI. Billy Butler also went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Lough's recent hot streak has driven his batting average up to .304. He is 8- for-19 with five runs driven in and four scored over his past six games. Butler has been just as dangerous, going 6-for-10 with a pair of doubles and a homer in the last three days.
These teams have split their first 10 games in 2013. The Royals are seven games back of Detroit for first place in the AL Central while Chicago is 16 games behind in last place in the division.