Preview: Chen, Royals look to close season strong with win over White Sox
Chen takes mound in finale as Royals look to avoid ending banner year with back-to-back losses
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Kansas City
The Chicago White Sox emphatically drove thoughts of a 100-loss season out of the ballpark Saturday.
They'll look to close their season with consecutive wins over the visiting Kansas City Royals in what could be Paul Konerko's final game as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
"It's crossed my mind," the first baseman said. "I could play Sunday, get two or three at-bats or play the whole game and then find out a month from now that was it."
Konerko, a free agent after this season, will take some time to mull it over following his 15th year in Chicago. He is second in franchise history with 427 home runs, 21 behind Frank Thomas.
"Whenever the time comes, I hope he looks back at his time here with a great deal of pride because he should," general manager Rick Hahn said. "He was and is and perhaps will continue to be a tremendous White Sox."
The White Sox (63-98) tied a season high with four home runs Saturday in a 6-5 victory over the Royals. They have 12 home runs over their last six games.
"Looking at last year, we hit a lot of home runs," manager Robin Ventura said. "Last year, we had it. This year, we didn't have it as much."
The problem is aside from home runs, they're having a hard time scoring. They've plated just three runs over their last six games by means other than the long ball and are 4 for their last 30 (.133) with runners in scoring position.
It was enough to cost hitting coach Jeff Manto his job. The team announced that he was fired after Saturday's game.
Kansas City's Bruce Chen (8-4, 3.38 ERA) has been susceptible to the home run of late, giving up one in five of his last six starts.
On Tuesday, Chen surrendered Justin Smoak's three-run shot and one other run in five innings of a 4-0 loss to Seattle.
The veteran left-hander yielded two runs over six innings in his only start against the White Sox this year, a 4-2, 12-inning win July 28.
Jose Quintana (9-6, 3.45) will look to win his career-high third straight start Sunday.
He has allowed three runs over 20 1/3 innings during that span.
On Monday, he held Toronto to two runs in 7 1/3 innings of a 3-2 victory.
The Royals (85-76) look to avoid ending their season with consecutive losses. It would mark only the second time this month they've lost two in a row.
Unlike Chicago, Kansas City entered Saturday in a power rut with four home runs in its previous 14 games. The Royals nearly matched that total Saturday with three home runs.
Billy Butler hit his first home run in a month, breaking a streak of 113 at-bats without one.
"This park is usually a good park to hit in if you get the ball in the air," Butler said. "You hit the ball in the air and you hit it good, it's going out."
Kansas City is guaranteed its best season since finishing 92-70 in 1989.