White Sox-Royals Preview

Despite a disappointing season, the Chicago White Sox are in the

midst of their longest winning stretch of the year.

The Kansas City Royals, meanwhile, must find a way to get back

on track to remain a serious playoff contender.

Looking for a sixth consecutive victory, the White Sox try to

end James Shields’ recent run of success and complete their first

road sweep of the Royals in four seasons Thursday night.

Chicago (51-74) is well out of postseason contention, but it’s

won 11 of 16 since a season-high 10-game slide. It’s been almost a

year – Aug. 20-26 – since the White Sox won six straight

overall.

They haven’t swept a series at Kansas City since May 29-31,

2009.

The Royals (64-61), meanwhile, have totaled 18 runs while losing

four straight and seven of nine. They are 6 1/2 back of the final

AL wild-card spot and 9 1/2 behind Detroit in the Central.

“We have just not played well,” said slugger Billy Butler, one

of the few Royals to hit with a .379 average his last 15 games.

“We’re in a tough stretch and we’re just not hitting.”

After being held to two runs in the first two games of the set,

Kansas City hopes to provide Shields (8-8, 3.19 ERA) some

support.

Though the right-hander ranks near the bottom of the majors

receiving an average 3.61 runs of support, he’s 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA

in his last five starts. He allowed three hits and overcame four

walks in seven innings of a 3-0 victory at Detroit on Friday.

“I’ve been pitching well all season,” said Shields, who has

recorded quality starts 20 of the 26 times he’s taken the mound.

“I’ve got a lot of quality starts. That’s what I care about, not

wins and losses.”

Shields’ current run of a success began July 26, when he allowed

eight hits over seven scoreless innings of a 5-1 victory at

Chicago. He’s yielded five runs in 26 innings while going 1-1 in

four starts against the White Sox in 2013.

Chicago starter Jose Quintana (7-4, 3.66) gave up two runs in

seven innings of that loss to Shields last month. Though the

left-hander is 0-2 in his last five starts versus Kansas City, he’s

posted a 3.16 ERA during those outings.

He helped the White Sox snap their season-high 10-game road

slide Friday while yielding two runs and striking out seven in 6

2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory at Minnesota.

“(I) tried to come in and attack earlier, throw strikes to every

single one of the batters, and thankfully everything worked out,”

said Quintana, who gave up five runs in five innings against the

Twins in his previous start.

Batting .462 (6 for 13) against Shields, Chicago’s Dayan Viciedo

clubbed his second career grand slam and had three hits in

Wednesday’s 5-2 victory.

Viciedo is hitting .184 in August, but .350 (7 for 20) with two

homers and seven RBIs in five games at Kauffman Stadium this

season.

Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas is 7 for 16 with two homers against

Quintana, and had an RBI on Wednesday. However, he’s 0 for 8 with

four strikeouts in his last three versus Chicago.