Royals eye sixth straight win and sweep in Windy City
The Kansas City Royals will be shooting for a series sweep and their sixth consecutive victory as they take on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Kansas City's pitching staff has been excellent during its recent winning streak and the starting rotation has a 0.79 ERA over that span. The White Sox has felt the wrath of the Royals' pitching staff in this series as they have produced just one run through the first two games.
Chicago starter Chris Sale went nine innings in Saturday's affair, giving up the lone run on seven hits and a walk, but the lack of run support spoiled an otherwise impressive performance. The 1-0 loss dropped the White Sox to 21 games below the .500 mark for the first time since Sept. 25, 2007.
"Yeah, I mean, just gotta stay on the positive," Sale said of his mindset. "Can't get down on yourself or anyone else. Just keep grinding it out and things will turn around."
Conor Gillaspie's homer in the eighth inning of the opener was the lone score of the series for the White Sox, who have lost five of their last six games. Gordon Beckham and Josh Phegley have combined to go 0-for-13 at the plate through the first two games.
Chicago will need to figure out a way to generate more offensively to help out Sunday's starter, Hector Santiago.
Santiago has been solid so far this month, with a 2.81 ERA in four starts, but he has not took a winning decision since June 21. Although he has not allowed more than three earned runs in a game in July, he has been taken yard once in all four starts.
The Royals will counter with the undefeated Bruce Chen, who has allowed only one run in 12 innings since moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation. The 36-year old southpaw improved to 4-0 on Tuesday as he gave up just one run on a solo shot over six innings versus Baltimore.
"He just keeps you off balance. He never gives in," Oriole centerfielder Adam Jones said. "It's a true testament to how he's maintained and stayed around as long as he has. He's not tricking you, because he can't blow it by anybody. He just makes his pitches. I was sitting out in center field wondering how we only had three hits. How? But he makes his pitches and you have to respect that."
Billy Butler has been leading the charge offensively for the Royals of late. He went 2-for-3 on Saturday to register his fourth-straight multi-hit game and is also batting .450 over his last 10 games. Lorenzo Cain has driven in a run in both games of the series.
Kansas City has won six of the 11 matchups between these divisional rivals this season. The Royals are seven games back of Detroit for first place in the AL Central while Chicago is 17 games behind with sole possession of last place in the division.