The Chicago White Sox continue to have difficulties with one of the American League's weakest clubs. Despite throwing two of their best pitchers against the Kansas City Royals, Chicago just can't seem to figure this team out.
The Royals claimed series honors Saturday night with a 9-4 victory at Kaufman Stadium and are looking to sweep the White Sox Sunday afternoon. No ground was lost to Detroit, who still trail Chicago by 1.5 games. However, a quick look at the records against Kansas City provides a glimpse of what could be a much larger lead.
The Tigers are 7-1 against the Royals this season. Chicago is 4-7.
Only four teams in baseball have worse records than Kansas City. They are above only Minnesota in the American League. Yet the White Sox have lost four of five August meetings with the Royals.
The White Sox send Jose Quintana to the mound in an attempt to avoid a three-game sweep. He is opposed by Jeremy Guthrie. Although Guthrie is carrying an ERA over a full point higher than Quintana, he shut out Chicago for eight innings to win a 2-1 decision when the two met August 8.
On that day, the 4-12 Guthrie dominated the White Sox, striking out six batters and allowing only two baserunners to get as far as second base. Chicago will have to do better than that Sunday.
The Royals are 11 games out or first but certainly haven't looked like a team playing out the string when facing the White Sox. Kevin Youkilis' 1,000th hit followed by Adam Dunn's 400th homer pulled Chicago to within a run of the lead in the eighth, but four Royals runs in the bottom half of the inning slammed the door shut on the comeback.
The key blow in that inning was Mike Moustakas' three-run blast off of Brett Myers. Listen for the reaction of the Royals broadcast team following the homer. You can tell by the way they mocked Hawk Harrelson's "put it on the board" call that Kansas City really enjoys beating the White Sox.
Hopefully Chicago can give Quintana the run support to take the finale with the Royals.From there, Chicago has six remaining games with Kansas City. Winning both series over what has been a tough division rival may be a key to holding their lead in the AL Central.