The hottest team in the American League Central faces the coldest when the reeling Royals head to Chicago to face the White Sox.
Kansas City Royals vs Chicago White Sox
Friday, 14 May 2021, 3:10 PM, 8:10 PM ET at Guaranteed Rate Field
Kansas City has lost 11 straight games and been swept by AL Central foes in three straight series. Things don’t get any easier for the Royals as they now head to Chicago for four games in three days against the Central leading White Sox.
The Sox have won six in a row and have the best run differential in the Major Leagues. The series gets started with a day-night doubleheader on Friday.
Kansas City opened the year a promising 16-9. Then the current losing streak hit. The Royals have been swept four straight at home by Cleveland, three in a row at home by the White Sox last weekend and three straight by Detroit to start the road trip that continues this weekend.
“We’re just kind of trying to be positive, not waiting it out until we get going but trying to find things to be positive about,” said outfielder Andrew Benintendi. “It’s obviously super-easy to be negative right now.”
It’s the worst slump for Kansas City since the Royals dropped 12 straight in April 2012. They could top that on Friday if the doubleheader doesn’t go well.
“We were missing one piece, which was the big hit,” manager Mike Matheny said. “And that’s how it’s been here for a while. One piece is missing and ends up going in the wrong column.”
The Royals send Brad Keller to the mound for the opener, which is a makeup of an April 10 rainout. Keller is 2-4, 7.31 this year. His last start was against the White Sox and began well, as he pitched four plus hitless innings. Chicago then broke through with three runs over the next two.
Jakob Junis takes the nightcap, making his first start since April 27. He’s been working out of the bullpen since then but struggled, giving up seven runs in 4.2 innings. He’s 1-2, 5.14 on the year.
Sox on Top
The White Sox are riding a six-game winning streak, all against AL Central foes, and have won eight of the last 10, outscoring opponents by 3.7 runs a game over that span.
The team has gotten strong pitching from arguably the best rotation in MLB and the offense has done its part.
The Sox bats are “just exploding right now,” said starter Lucas Giolito, who benefited from nine Chicago runs in his last start. “Really taking advantage of hittable pitches and when guys are on base, we are getting them in. So, not much to complain about.”
Giolito will return to the mound for Friday’s opening game. He is 2-3, 4.54 this year but has a 3.18 ERA in his last three outings. He’s been dominant against the Royals in his career, going 8-2, 2.81.
Michael Kopech starts game two, making just his third start this year and first since April 25. He is 2-0, 1.61. All of his starts have come in Chicago doubleheaders. Other than that, he’s been a strong bullpen arm for the White Sox this year.
Using Kopech in twin bills makes sense, as manager Tony LaRussa doesn’t want any of his other starters to move off their regular schedule of off days. The White Sox rotation has a 2.95 ERA this season, which tops the American League.
Kopech has been stretched out in his two starts, going from 41 pitches in the first to 87 in the second. LaRussa said he wouldn’t be on a pitch count. It would depend more on how his delivery looks.
It’s hard to go with the Royals at this point. Nothing seems to be going well for Kansas City, and it’s running into a buzz saw this weekend in Chicago. The law of averages says they’ll win eventually, but it’s tough to make money counting on that. Take the Sox in both ends of today’s action.