Preview: Royals look to Davis to continue hot streak
Strong pitching is a big reason the Kansas City Royals are surging since the All-Star break.
Wade Davis would like to contribute to that success.
Davis will try to lead the Royals to a fifth straight win by ending his four-game slide Saturday night against the last-place Chicago White Sox.
Kansas City (49-51) has won six of eight since the break, and the rotation has been key with a 1.79 ERA in those victories and a 2.34 mark overall. James Shields kept the Royals hot Friday, tossing seven scoreless innings in a 5-1 win in the opener of this three-game set.
"I think we're playing some decent baseball right now," Shields said. "I think there's always room to improve, but right now we're on a little bit of a roll and it's nice. I think we're playing on all cylinders right now."
That's certainly not the case for Davis (4-9, 5.92 ERA), who has baseball's highest ERA and WHIP (1.81) of any pitcher with at least 97 innings. The right-hander is also 1-6 with a 5.88 ERA over his last 11 starts, losing four in a row with a 10.91 ERA while striking out 19 and walking 12 in 15 2-3 innings.
Davis' struggles showed few signs of ending in Monday's 9-2 loss to Baltimore. He surrendered four runs and seven hits with three walks while throwing 83 pitches in 2 2-3 innings.
"I'm just inconsistent," Davis said. "I've got to get deep in games. I fell behind in the count too much, a leadoff walk."
He's been very consistent against the White Sox, however, going 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in nine games - six starts. That includes allowing three runs in 13 innings without a decision in two starts this year.
The White Sox have dropped seven of 10, but Chris Sale (6-9, 2.81) is looking to win a fourth straight start at home against the Royals.
The left-hander has a 1.25 ERA while winning his last three against the AL Central rival on the South Side. He was dominant again April 1, scattering seven hits with seven strikeouts before leaving with two outs in the eighth of a 1-0 win on opening day.
Sale hasn't received much help from the offense over his last nine outings anywhere. He has a 3.09 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 64 innings over that span, but is 1-7 since he's been backed by an average of 2.3 runs.
That was the case again in Monday's 7-3 loss to Detroit, as Sale allowed four runs - two earned - and fanned 11 in eight innings while backed by two runs as his defense committed three errors.
It wasn't his performance that put him in the spotlight, however, as much as his argument with pitching coach Don Cooper on the mound after being told to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera.
Sale later apologized to manager Robin Ventura.
"I was pretty embarrassed with how I reacted," Sale told the team's official website. "No matter how confident I am in myself for what I think might be right, at the end of the day, it's his call. And I have to respect that."
Sale has struggled against Billy Butler, who is 9 for 28 (.321) off him with three homers and one double.
Butler has two doubles and a solo homer while recording three straight multihit games.