The Chicago White Sox are still atop the AL Central, but the Kansas City Royals have showed this weekend why they are defending World Series champions.
The Royals can sweep a road series for the first time this season on Sunday, although starter Yordano Ventura has struggled away from home and has never won at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago (25-18) has been atop the division for most of the first two months thanks to an AL-best 3.18 ERA. This series is its first look at the best team in the AL Central from a season ago and the results haven’t been pretty, with the White Sox totaling two runs in losing the first two games.
"It’s our first real kind of test in the division and the Royals are doing their job and we basically are not," third baseman Todd Frazier said.
Kansas City (22-20) posted a 2-1 victory Saturday as Danny Duffy and four relievers scattered seven hits. Lorenzo Cain homered for the Royals’ only extra-base hit.
"We win on pitching and defense and this was another good example of it," said manager Ned Yost.
Chicago is 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position in this series.
"You could see it as far as getting in those situations trying to probably hit a seven-run homer," manager Robin Ventura said. "You can’t get out of it that way. You’ve got to be able to relax and get through it. We’ll be there for him."
The White Sox will try for better results against Ventura (4-2, 4.85 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA in four home starts but has a 6.30 ERA in four on the road. Ventura is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three career outings at U.S. Cellular.
Avisail Garcia may sit for the second straight game for Chicago, as he’s 0 for 12 against Ventura. Adam Eaton is 12 for 34 in an eight-game hit streak.
Ventura went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the White Sox last year. He’s looking to win a third straight outing after yielding four runs in 5 2/3 innings of Tuesday’s 8-4 victory over Boston.
The Royals activated Mike Moustakas off the disabled list Saturday after the third baseman missed more than two weeks with a left thumb injury. Moustakas went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon (1-4, 4.73) has never faced Kansas City or any of its hitters.
Rodon is 0-3 with a 6.06 ERA in his last six outings after giving up three runs in six innings of a 6-5 defeat to Houston. He didn’t get the loss, but the White Sox have dropped his last four starts.
Kansas City’s Paulo Orlando could be back in the lineup after he rested Saturday. He’s 10 for 18 in a six-game hit streak.
Chicago’s Jimmy Rollins didn’t start Saturday but is expected back in the lineup for the finale.