Rowdy and resilient after Sunday’s walk-off victory secured a weekend series win against the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago White Sox remain confident in themselves and the season’s stretch run as the Kansas City Royals arrive Tuesday to begin a three-game set.
“We just got dogs,” White Sox outfielder Brian Goodwin said. “We got a bunch of dudes that come out and give you everything you want and then some. And no backing down. It means the world to get the opportunity to be able to play with these guys every day, to play in front of these fans every day.”
Goodwin invigorated the Guaranteed Rate Field faithful on Sunday by belting a game-ending, solo home run in the ninth inning to cap a 2-1 win. The American League Central-leading White Sox boosted their division lead to nine games over the second-place Indians entering play Monday, the largest advantage in baseball.
Division rival Kansas City is coming off a three-game weekend sweep at the hands of the truly Toronto Blue Jays, who belted six home runs during the set, the club’s first in Canada in nearly two years due to border restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Royals had won eight of nine entering the first leg of their three-city, nine-game road trip, including taking three of four from the White Sox in Kansas City last week.
“We’ve got some tough games ahead of us,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “So hopefully we can put this one behind us and get back to playing really good baseball.”
Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield totes a 12-game hitting streak to Chicago after continuing his tear with a leadoff single in the first inning Sunday.
Still, a struggling attack was the culprit for much of the stay in Toronto. Kansas City endured a 17-inning scoreless streak before Edward Olivares hit a solo home run in the ninth inning Sunday.
Olivares atoned in part for striking out to end a bases-loaded threat in the sixth. The Royals trailed 5-0 at the time. The team appeared primed to break through to start the game, putting two of the first three batters on, but was unable to score.
“We had trouble getting anything going after that until late,” Matheny said. “We needed that big hit. It just didn’t happen.”
Kansas City was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position while stranding eight.
Left-hander Kris Bubic (3-4, 4.58 ERA) will aim to continue his season-long success against the White Sox as he gets the start for the Royals. Bubic produced a quality start against Chicago in a no-decision Wednesday, scattering two runs and five hits in six innings with one walk and three strikeouts.
Bubic has pitched to a 1.54 ERA in 11 2/3 innings against Chicago this season and is 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings over five career head-to-head appearances, including four starts.
Counterpart Dylan Cease (7-6, 4.14) also would appreciate sturdier run support against a familiar foe as he hopes to erase memories of a rough July, when he was 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA in five starts. Cease has three no-decisions in as many starts against the Royals this season, compiling a 1.65 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.
He is 2-1 with a 3.11 ERA in seven career starts versus Kansas City.
White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez remains day-to-day with groin tightness that has sidelined him for the past four games. He hit in the batting cage and participated in running drills Sunday.
–Field Level Media