The Chicago White Sox will try to hang onto its slim lead in the American League Central race as they take on the Kansas City Royals in the second portion of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
Despite utilizing their promising young starting pitcher Chris Sale (14-4), the White Sox fell to Kansas City, 4-2, in the series opener to increase their losing streak versus the Royals to three games. The defeat narrowed Chicago's lead over Detroit in the division standings to just 1 1/2 games.
Paul Konerko returned from the disabled list and hit a home run for Chicago in the opener. Second baseman Gordon Beckham produced an RBI and went 2-for-3 at the plate in the losing effort, but Kevin Youkilis and Adam Dunn combined to go 0-for-6 with three strike outs.
Youkilis could have a memorable day on Saturday, as he enters just one hit shy of his 1,000th career hit.
Sale's loss puts more pressure on Jake Peavy to be effective on Saturday. Peavy has delivered four quality starts in a row and gone 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA over that span. The right-hander lost to Kansas City on Aug. 7 in a game that had the similar playoff race implications. The recent memory should serve as motivation for Peavy in this one.
"I did not see the scoreboard tonight. I don't really care," said Peavy, after giving the White Sox a chance to win over 6 2/3 innings and 104 pitches in the loss to the Royals. "You got to take care of business here. Losing a game like we lost tonight, when you feel like it could have went differently, it [stinks]. There's no other way to say it."
Bruce Chen earned the decision for Kansas City in that matchup, and he will try to repeat that success tonight. The southpaw comes in with an 8-10 record and a 5.56 ERA, but he is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his last eight outings against Chicago. With eight wins, Chen is the team's leader.
"I guess because they have such a good lineup, I think I concentrate and focus a little bit better because any mistake you make you can pay for it," said Chen on his success versus the White Sox.
Alexei Ramirez is just 1-for-22 in his career versus Chen. Konerko, Alex Rios, and Beckham have also struggled against the left-hander throughout their head- to-head matchups.
He did not fare quite as well on Sunday versus Baltimore, as he gave up four runs, four hits, and two home runs in the team's 5-3 loss to the Orioles.
Kansas City's 22-year old catcher Salvador Perez was the hero in Friday's win due to his two-run, tie-breaking double in the seventh inning that changed the complexion of the ballgame. Perez has a career batting average of .316 in 80 games.
Billy Butler and Lorenzo Cain both hit solo home runs for the Royals, who are 10-6 in August so far. Butler now has team-leading totals of 25 home runs and 76 RBI in 2012. The All-Star designed hitter is 10-for-25 with three home runs and five RBI in his career versus Peavy.
Second baseman Chris Getz suffered a broken left thumb on Friday which will cause him to miss the rest of the season. The Royals called up their highly regarded prospect Johnny Giavotella from Triple-A Omaha. He was hitting .323 with 10 home runs and 71 RBI in the minors prior to the recent call up.
Kansas City is 6-4 against the White Sox this season.