The Chicago White Sox have a good shot at extending their winning streak to six games with Chris Sale set to take the mound Wednesday in the second installment of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
Sale will try for his 18th win of the season and third straight quality start. The AL Cy Young Award candidate won his second start in a row in Friday's 6-0 win at Minnesota, as he struck out five and walked none over six scoreless innings. Sale, who has won six of his last nine decisions, moved to 17-6 in 27 games (26 starts) and lowered his earned run average to 2.78.
The left-hander recently defeated Kansas City on Sept. 8 in a 5-4 win at U.S. Cellular Field, where he delivered six innings of one-run ball and fanned six batters. Sale is 4-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 16 career games (5 starts) against the Royals and hopes to get the same amount of run support Gavin Floyd did in Tuesday's 3-2 win in the series opener.
Solo home runs from Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham was more than enough for Floyd, who was making his second start since coming off the disabled list. Floyd lasted seven innings and allowed two runs and five hits to even his record at 10-10. Matt Thornton threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Addison Reed got the final two outs of the game for his 28th save.
"The first inning didn't go exactly the way I wanted it to, but it is what it is," Floyd said of his longest outing since July 7. "I just tried to keep on making pitches. It was a rough first (inning), especially after getting a run. You want to shut them down."
De Aza was back in the lineup after sitting out the previous two games to work on his swing.
"He just, in Minnesota, didn't look right," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said on the club's official website. "Just tried to get him a day where he could work on it and get back in there. He's fine."
Chicago has won five in a row and maintained its three-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers pounded Oakland, 12-2, last night.
Kansas City has dropped two in a row and four of five games, and wasted a solid outing from Luke Hochevar. Hochevar served up all three home runs and lasted seven innings to fall to 8-14 on the season. He talked a bit about the home run to Rios afterward.
"A lot of those big home-run guys get the green light 3-0 and I kind of had the gut feeling he was going to, so I tried to step on the gas a little bit and the ball just came up," Hochevar said. "I just left that ball out over the plate and he whacked it."
Billy Butler drove in both of Kansas City's runs and Alex Gordon finished with two hits and a run scored in defeat.
Taking the mound for the Royals tonight will be veteran Bruce Chen. Chen moves up a day since Luis Mendoza is battling a throat illness and is winless in his previous three starts (0-2). He did not factor in the outcome of a 9-7 loss versus the LA Angels on Friday and permitted five runs in 6 1/3 innings. He has gone six or more innings in each of his last six outings.
Chen, who is 10-12 with a 5.42 earned run average in 31 starts, lost at Chicago on Sept. 8 and gave up five runs in six innings. The lefty has faced the White Sox 19 times (14 starts) in his career, going 5-5 with a 3.91 ERA.
Kansas City has dominated the White Sox this season by winning 10 of the first 16 matchups between the AL Central inhabitants.