Garland looks to reach double digits in wins for the sixth straight season, and remain perfect against the Royals this year when he takes the mound for the Chicago White Sox on Thursday in the finale of a four-game set.
Chicago scored an average of 4.5 runs for Garland (9-12, 4.47 ERA) last season, helping the veteran right-hander win 18 games despite a 4.51 ERA. This year, the White Sox (66-86) have averaged 3.2 runs for Garland and he has yet to reach 10 wins.
Garland, however, has been outstanding in two starts against the Royals (65-86) this season, posting a 0.59 ERA en route to wins in both games despite getting a total of five runs to work with. He is 15-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 28 starts and three relief appearances lifetime against Kansas City.
Garland is 1-2 in his last three starts overall, but has a 1.23 ERA during that span. In his last outing, he gave up two runs—one earned—and nine hits in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said he isn’t going to hold his starters back down the stretch, even with nothing to play for.
“So far, I don’t think any of our starters will shut it down,” he said the White Sox’s official Web site. “I don’t think there is a good reason. Our goal is to win as many games as we can until we finish the season.”
Chicago got a gem from Jose Contreras, who pitched a five-hitter, to beat Kansas City 7-0 on Wednesday night.
The White Sox have won five of their last seven. The Royals, meanwhile, have lost 11 of 14 to drop into the AL Central cellar, one-half game behind Chicago.
Chicago has scored a total of 18 runs in its two wins against Kansas City in this series. Jim Thome has hit three home runs in those games, including two in Wednesday’s contest to bring his career total to 502 and his season total to 30.
Thome has 36 home runs in 141 games against the Royals.
Thome and the White Sox’s lineup will be facing Zack Greinke (6-6, 3.88 ERA) on Thursday. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.71 ERA in his previous five starts since rejoining Kansas City’s rotation.
In his last start, Greinke allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-0 loss at Cleveland on Saturday.
Greinke has not allowed a run in three relief appearances this season against Chicago, striking out five in 7 1-3 innings. His eight other appearances versus the White Sox were all starts, and he is 1-5 with a 4.67 ERA lifetime against them.
Kansas City’s lineup has had trouble backing up its pitchers in recent weeks, scoring three runs or less in nine of its last 13 games.
Royals manager Buddy Bell said designated hitter Mike Sweeney might return Thursday. Sweeney, who hasn’t played since Friday’s loss at Cleveland, had knee surgery in July and has been limited to 67 games this year.
“He says he can play,” Bell said.
Sweeney is 2-for-15 (.133) in four games against Chicago this season.