White Sox-Royals preview

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The clock has not struck midnight yet for the Kansas City Royals to defend their World Series championship, but it is getting close.

The Royals were not just swept in a four-game series by the Oakland Athletics, who are in last place in the American League West, but were embarrassed. They fell 14-5 Thursday and did not score a run until the ninth inning.

They were outscored 43-12, the most runs they have allowed in a four-game series in Royals history. The previous high was 41 by the New York Yankees in 1998 and Minnesota Twins in 2006.

“It's been tough,” said Christian Colon, who hit a three-run homer with two out in the ninth for his first career home run. “We're not used to this, so it's hard. It's hard to really enjoy this because you play to win the game. That's what matters the most at the end of the day.”

The Royals' chances to get back into postseason are rapidly fading with 16 games left.

The Royals, who have lost eight of their past nine Kauffman Stadium games, continue this eight-game homestand with four games against the Chicago White Sox.

The White Sox are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians, who are running away with the American League Central. Jose Abreu homered for the White Sox, while Carlos Sanchez had a walk-off RBI-single.

“He (Abreu) started out a bit slow but when you look at the end of the year he's probably going to have numbers there as impressive as anybody in the league,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “If he can get a few more homers and everything else, it's historic stuff he's chasing (30 HR, 100 RBI).”

The White Sox will start All-Star left-hander Chris Sale in the series opener Friday. Sale, who leads the American League with a 3.03 ERA and five complete-games, lost 2-0 to the Royals on Sunday in Chicago.

Sale is among the AL pitching leaders with 205 strikeouts, 15 victories, 201 2/3 innings, .220 opponents batting average, 2.55 road ERA and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Sale usually has little difficulty with left-handed hitters, but Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer is 18-for-45, .400, off him. Hosmer is the only left-handed hitter with three home runs off Sale.

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar has a .354 average, 23-for-65, with one home run, off Sale. Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales has only a .190 average in 21 at-bats off Sale, but two of his four hits are home runs.

The Royals will start right-hander Ian Kennedy, who outdueled Sale Sunday, pitching six scoreless innings and allowing just one hit, a leadoff single to Adam Eaton, but worked around four walks, while striking out six.

Kennedy is 5-0 with a 2.16 ERA, yielding 12 earned runs in 50 innings, since the beginning of August.

Kennedy is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts this season against the White Sox. He has a 2-1 record with a 3.38 ERA in his career against the White Sox.

It seems unlikely Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain will appear in the series as he continues to nurse a sore left wrist. He has played in only game this month and could be out for the remainder of the season.