Chicago left-hander Chris Sale has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. Tonight, he goes after a fourth straight win when the White Sox begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Sale's latest win came against Oakland on Sunday, as he held the Athletics to two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out 11 without walking a batter and improved to 14-3 to go along with a 2.60 ERA.
Over his last 13 starts, the 23-year-old hurler is 10-1 with 2.45 ERA.
"Good things happen when you fill up the zone, throw strikes," said Sale. "You start falling behind counts and get into hitters' counts, they'll hurt you. You just got to be sharp and on the top of your game."
Sale beat the Royals the last time he faced them and is 3-3 in 14 games (3 starts) against them with a 2.80 ERA.
Chicago, which holds a 2 1/2-game lead atop the American League Central, won its third straight game on Thursday, as Alex Rios crushed a three-run home run to power the White Sox past the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, in the finale of a four-game set at Rogers Centre.
"It's no different than any other homer," said Rios, who spent his first five- plus seasons in Toronto. "Just another game, another team that we have to play and that's the way I see it."
Dewayne Wise, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, and Tyler Flowers all smacked solo shots to help Chicago take its first season series victory over Toronto since 2006.
"It's not easy coming up here and winning games," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "They're good and they're tough at home."
Francisco Liriano (4-10) allowed two runs on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings to earn his first win in four starts as a member of the White Sox after being dealt from Minnesota just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.
The lineup could get a boost tonight with the return of Paul Konerko, who has been out since Aug. 7 with a mild concussion. Ventura said he could be the team's designated hitter this evening.
"I would say he is probably going to come out early, do some stuff, and we'll go from there," Ventura said. "But everything leading up to it looks fine. It looks like he is going to be able to play."
Kansas City, meanwhile, was denied a sweep in its three-game set with the Athletics on Thursday, as it dropped a 3-0 decision. Eric Hosmer had two hits, and Billy Butler and Salvador Perez each added base hits for the Royals, who lost for just the third time in nine tries.
Luke Hochevar (7-11) absorbed the loss after giving up three runs on four hits. He struck out five over seven-plus frames.
Getting the call for the Royals tonight will be righty Luis Mendoza, who is 6-8 with a 4.37 ERA. Mendoza beat the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, holding them to three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Mendoza absorbed the loss back on July 15 against Sale and the White Sox and is 3-3 in seven games (5 starts) against them with a 4.38 ERA.
Kansas City is 5-4 against the White Sox this season.