The 24-year-old left-hander looks to halt Chicago’s slide as the White Sox open a key three-game series against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago is 3 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota and Kansas City is 4 1/2 games back.
The White Sox were tied Sunday for first with the Twins, winning two straight against the Boston Red Sox last weekend to snap a three-game skid.
However, they have lost six of eight overall, capped with Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Twins, who completed a three-game sweep to take a commanding lead in over the second-place White Sox in the division.
Making matters worse for Chicago is that Minnesota plays seven of its final nine games against Detroit, which has lost 114 games.
“There’s still time left,” White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. “But we’ve got to run the table.”
Buehrle may be the perfect candidate to start a run.
After opening the season 2-10 with a 5.18 ERA over his first 15 starts, he has gone 11-3 in his last 18 outings. He helped the White Sox take two of three from the Red Sox last weekend by winning the series finale last Sunday, allowing two runs and seven hits over seven innings of the 7-2 win.
“I was joking around that I finally showed up,” said Buehrle, who is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA over his last three starts.
The Royals, who are still in the division hunt, have won five of six with Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Cleveland.
“We’re still alive,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “We have to continue to play hard every single day and win some ball games.”
STANDINGS: Royals - 3rd place, 4 1/2 GB, AL Central. White Sox - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, AL Central.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jamey Wright (1-1, 1.59 ERA). Wright tossed a seven-hitter in just his second start of the season in Saturday’s 7-0 victory over Detroit. The right-hander, who pitched with Triple-A affiliates for Milwaukee and Texas before signing with Omaha, struck out seven and walked four for his first victory in more than a year. Wright lost his lone career start against the White Sox, allowing seven runs—five earned—and nine hits over seven innings.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Buehrle (13-13, 4.13 ERA). Buehrle is 7-3 with a 2.99 ERA in 15 career appearances against Kansas City, including 13 starts.
SEASON SERIES: White Sox, 7-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - 3B Joe Randa is hitting .378 in 37 career at-bats against LHP Buehrle with three doubles, one homer and seven RBIs. … OF Aaron Guiel is batting .341 (15-for-44) in his last nine games. … The Royals need two wins to insure that 1B Mike Sweeney would remain under contract with Kansas City through 2007. Under the terms of the deal he signed in March 2002, Sweeney could become a free agent after 2004 if the Royals don’t play at least .500 ball in either 2003 or 2004. White Sox - OF Lee is hitting .405 (32-for-79) over his last 21 games. … 1B-DH Thomas went 0-for-4 Thursday and is hitting just .095 (2-for-21) over his last five games. “I’m just missing,” Thomas said. “No excuses. I’m as aggressive as I’ve been all summer. I feel real close.” … Though Minnesota OF Jacque Jones homered twice Thursday, the White Sox have allowed just four homers over their last 10 games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 41-38 on the road; White Sox - 48-27 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - OF Michael Tucker (leg), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Appier (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Runelvys Hernandez (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 60-day DL. White Sox - LHP Josh Stewart (hand), 15-day DL.