The Kansas City Royals were recently eliminated from postseason contention.
The Chicago White Sox have been out for a much longer time.
Friday night will still feature an outstanding pitching matchup, however, as James Shields seeks his 100th career win against Chris Sale and the host White Sox.
Their first two matchups turned into pitchers’ duels, but Sale and Shields haven’t squared off since May 6.
Sale (11-13, 2.97 ERA) pitched 7 2-3 scoreless innings and Tyler Flowers homered off Shields in Chicago’s 1-0 victory over the Royals on opening day.
On May 6, Shields (12-9, 3.21) tossed two-hit ball over eight scoreless innings, but the White Sox tied it in the ninth and won 2-1 in the 11th.
Sale has allowed two runs in 24 innings against Kansas City this year.
Shields is not far behind with a 2.18 ERA over five 2013 starts against Chicago.
Both pitchers have been outstanding of late.
Shields has won eight of his last 12 starts, posting a 3.15 ERA.
He fell short in his bid to win a third straight start Sunday despite pitching eight scoreless innings against Texas. The Royals were held off the scoreboard until Justin Maxwell’s 10th-inning walkoff grand slam.
Shields’ start was particularly impressive, given the liner he absorbed from David Murphy in the second inning.
“You can probably see the big bump in my elbow,” Shields said. “I had a hard time feeling the baseball the whole rest of the game. It’s just one of those games, one of those moments where I wasn’t coming out of the game.”
Sale limited Detroit to four hits with seven strikeouts in 7 2-3 scoreless innings Saturday, but the White Sox blew a six-run lead in the ninth before falling 7-6 in 12.
The left-hander is 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA in his last nine starts, with 14 of the 25 runs he allowed during that span coming in the two losses.
Sale has been susceptible to the home run lately, serving up nine in his last 43 2/3 innings after offering up eight in his previous 125 1/3.
Shields and Sale will both pitch to slumping lineups.
The White Sox (62-97) have scored eight runs over three straight losses, including a 3-2 defeat to the Royals Thursday. Five of those runs came via the solo home run.
Chicago, which has dropped 21 of 27, needs one win in its remaining three games to avoid finishing with 100 losses for the first time since 1970.
“You don’t want to lose 100,” said Paul Konerko, who homered Thursday. “You don’t want to put that on a team next year.”
The Royals (84-75) have slumped as well, batting .202 with three homers over their last seven games.
One night after picking up their 84th win for the first time since 1993, the Royals seek their 85th victory for the first time since 1989.
“The first time in 20 years we’ve won this many games, that’s pretty good, too,” manager Ned Yost said. “They’re all pushing. They all want to finish strong.”