Royals open three-game set with White Sox on Armed Forces Night

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chicago White Sox are playing for 2018 and beyond, and the Kansas City Royals are playing to reach the postseason for the third time in four years.

While the White Sox have the worst record in the American League, the Royals are 71-71 and 2 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot in a crowded field.

The White Sox open a three-game series Monday in Kansas City. The Royals could use a sweep before opening an 11-game, 12-day, four-city road trip.

Royals right-hander Jason Hammel will start the Monday opener against the Pale Hose.

"When September kicks in, it's a whole new ballgame, especially if you're in a race," Hammel said. "The fans provide everything. Experience, first of all, is the No. 1 thing that helps you get through that and then into October.

"The adrenaline provided by the fans is the other. It completely makes the booboos and owies go away because the energy you feed off of in September, it's almost like Opening Day every day when you get into a tight race. It's really quite an experience. This time of year, if you're not hurting, you're not trying hard enough."

Hammel has been on the flip side, too, when a team has nothing to play for in September.

"It could be the longest time of the year, honestly," Hammel said. "I've been on a 100-loss team before in September. I was lucky enough to be at the beginning of my career at that time, so I was still trying to prove myself, still.

"It can really be long if, more or less, you're playing the spoiler role. There's nothing else to play for but yourself, and that is not the way I go about my business."

The White Sox are definitely in the spoiler role this week and could derail the Royals' hopes of making it back to the postseason after winning the 2015 World Series.

Hammel has not faced the White Sox this season. He has a 2-2 record with a 3.54 ERA in 10 career outings, including five starts, against the White Sox.

While Chicago is in a youth movement, Hammel will have to deal with Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who ranks among the AL leaders in total bases, multi-hit games and slugging percentage.

The White Sox beat the San Francisco Giants in their past two games, outscoring them 21-2. Abreu hit two home runs and drove in three runs Sunday, bringing his totals to 31 and 90.

"It has been incredible," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I think we are playing with a lot of motivation. We always come here to try to do our best, to play with joy and motivation. I think the last two days we have been doing that in a good way. I think that since the young kids have started coming up, we're playing with more motivation, with joy.

"We're enjoying more of the game. We're trying to put all of our effort on the field.

"It's good when you can see these kinds of results because we have been working hard every day to get good results. The White Sox, maybe we are not in the position we wanted to be, but we are working to be in that position in the future."

The White Sox will start right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (0-3, 4.84 ERA) on Monday.

This is the Royals' annual Armed Forces Night at Kauffman Stadium. The team will honor the military in a special pregame ceremony.

In conjunction with Armed Forces Night, FOX Sports Kansas City presents This One's For You, a special telecast in support ofKansas and Missouri National Guard troops serving in Kuwait.

Kansas and Missouri National Guard soldiers of the 35th Infantry Division, serving at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, will be interviewed live by FOX Sports Kansas City during the game. The 35th Infantry Division, along with U.S. troops throughout the world, will be able to watch the game live at 3 a.m. Kuwait time on American Forces Network (AFN). In addition, hundreds of their family members will attend the game at Kauffman Stadium.

Coverage begins with a special one-hour pregame show at 6 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City.