White Sox-Royals Preview

The Kansas City Royals’ slump has dropped them further back in

the playoff race, and their postseason hopes likely will continue

fading unless their suddenly stagnant offense can get back on

track.

An improved pitching performance from Jeremy Guthrie wouldn’t

hurt matters, either.

Kansas City looks to avoid a fourth straight loss Wednesday

night as it hosts the last-place Chicago White Sox, who are seeking

a season-best fifth consecutive win.

The Royals (64-60) were four games out of the AL’s second

wild-card spot and 6 1/2 back of Central-leading Detroit before

dropping six of eight.

They’ve averaged 2.0 runs during their cold stretch and are now

8 1/2 games out of the division lead with their wild-card chances

also slipping away. Kansas City had problems again Tuesday, falling

2-0 in the series opener.

“We’re just not swinging the bats real well right now,” manager

Ned Yost said. “We’re going to have to find a way to swing the bats

better.”

Alex Gordon went 1 for 4 and is hitting .143 during the team’s

slump.

“We weren’t doing anything offensively, and then (John Danks)

got ahead of us,” Gordon said. “Give credit to him, but we just

didn’t do a very good job offensively.”

Guthrie (12-9, 4.15 ERA) has struggled as well lately. He’s

dropped two straight starts after winning his previous four,

allowing five runs in six innings of a 5-3 loss to Boston on Aug.

10 before giving up four runs and a career-worst 13 hits in

Thursday’s 4-1 defeat at Detroit.

The right-hander had gone 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in his last six

starts against the White Sox, including a four-hit shutout May 4,

but gave up six runs in 2 1-3 inning of a 9-1 defeat the last time

he faced them June 21.

“He has tremendous stuff, and we did a good job of making him

throw it over the plate,” Chicago’s Adam Dunn said after that

contest. “He threw some good pitches and we were able to lay off

them.”

Avisail Garcia had three hits Tuesday and is batting .429 during

a seven-game hitting streak for the White Sox (50-74), who have won

four straight for the first time since May 14-17.

The final victory in that streak, 3-0 over the Los Angeles

Angels, marked Chicago’s last shutout prior to Tuesday.

“Hopefully this will get us on a little streak to finish the

season on a high,” Danks said.

White Sox starters have a 1.95 ERA during the team’s run as

rookie Andre Rienzo takes the hill Wednesday.

Rienzo (0-0, 3.70) has been solid in four starts since being

called up July 30. He allowed two runs and four hits in six innings

before Minnesota rallied to beat the White Sox 4-3 on Thursday.

The right-hander didn’t walk a batter after issuing at least

three free passes in each of his first three outings.

“I tried to give the team a chance to win,” Rienzo said. “That’s

my job. I was so-so, but giving the team a chance to win is my

focus.”

The White Sox have a 2.16 ERA against Kansas City this season,

but they’re 6-7 in the series.