Royals-White Sox preview
CHICAGO -- The postseason might be just about out of reach, but the Chicago White Sox believe they could still be pretty effective spoilers.
Chicago (68-73) hopes to further torpedo the Kansas City Royals' playoff hopes as it sends left-handed ace Chris Sale (15-7, 3.07 ERA) against Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy (10-9, 3.76) in Sunday's series finale.
"I haven't been the spoiler too often in my career," said White Sox right-hander James Shields, who had no decision in Saturday's 6-5 Chicago loss to the Royals.
"We want to finish strong as a team, in general. We want to be that team that finishes strong and has a good thought process going into the offseason, no matter what happens down the road here. But we're going to try and win the series tomorrow."
The defending World Series champions (73-68) are nine games behind Cleveland in the American League Central and four games out of the second AL wild-card spot with 21 games to play.
The White Sox beat the Royals 7-2 on Friday as right-hander Carlos Rodon extended his winning streak to five games after allowing two runs (one earned) and six hits with a season-high nine strikeouts in six innings.
The best the White Sox can shoot for is a .500 or better record in the season's final three weeks. And that's achievable for a team that had won three straight entering Saturday and is 5-3 in its last eight.
The Royals, meanwhile, are now 4-6 in their last 10 games and 8-8 in their last 16 and have gone 15-7 in the last 22 games vs. the AL Central.
Sale makes his 28th start of the season and 13th at home. He picked up the win in his lone start of the season against the Royals on June 10 -- a 7-5 decision. Sale is 5-4 with a 2.88 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 15 career games (10 starts) against Kansas City.
He's coming off a no-decision in his last start on Sept. 5 against the Detroit Tigers, allowing two runs and six hit with no walks and eight strikeouts in six innings.
But individual accolades mean little to Sale, who'd rather be competing for the postseason than playing out the string.
"It's hard to look at stuff like that when you're going through what we've been going through," Sale recently told reporters. "I don't really look too far into personal stats. If somebody's got really bad stats on a winning team, I'll trade it with him."
Off again/on-again Royals right fielder Lorenzo Cain was out of the lineup on Saturday and one report suggested he could be finished for the season.
Cain, suffering from a left wrist injury, played in his first game since Aug. 30 on Friday, going 1-for-3. He was hitting .287 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs in 103 games this year. Cain also missed much of July with a hamstring injury.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he'd like to have the valuable veteran in the lineup as much as possible
"Every day that he can be," Yost said. "(The wrist) is going to bother him a little bit, but he still finds away to produce through all that."