After a squandered opportunity to expand their lead in the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox look to move another step closer to the division title as they wrap up a three-game road series with the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
The White Sox (85-69) remained 2 1/2 games ahead of the Twins, whom they open a three-game series against in Minnesota starting Tuesday, despite a 5-2 loss Saturday. Chicago had its magic number for clinching the Central reduced to six after Minnesota’s 7-2 loss at Tampa Bay allowed the Rays to clinch a playoff berth - effectively ending any chance of either Central team winning the wild card spot.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen seemed a little upset at his team losing an opportunity to put some distance between itself and the Twins.
“Maybe (we were) a little bit too relaxed, I don’t know,” he admitted to the team’s official Web site. “We started the game and we know Minnesota lost and we could have a pretty interesting night. But we have to win, not worry about how Minnesota played.”
Guillen turns to John Danks (10-8, 3.32 ERA) to regroup the White Sox. The left-hander is winless since Aug. 16, but deserved a better result than in his last outing. Danks scattered four hits and one walk in six shutout innings against Detroit on Sept. 14, but the White Sox wasted a seven-run lead before eventually winning 11-7.
Danks, who has lost his last three decisions, has no record and a 7.45 ERA in two starts versus the Royals this year - giving up eight runs and 15 hits in 9 2-3 innings. He also did not get a decision in his first-ever appearance against them last year.
Royals center fielder David DeJesus is 3-for-9 with three RBIs lifetime against Danks as he attempts to push his hitting streak to 12 games. DeJesus, who had an inside-the-park homer in Saturday’s victory, is 16-for-42 (.381) with three homers and two doubles in his current run.
Brandon Duckworth (3-1, 5.19) looks to continue his late-season push for a spot on next year’s team. The right-hander was effective Monday against Seattle, giving up two runs and five hits in six innings of a 6-3 victory.
While Duckworth has not pitched more than six innings in any of his five starts since being called up from the minors, he also has allowed three runs or fewer in four of them. He went 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in six relief appearances against the White Sox last year, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 8 2-3 innings.
White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who is hitting .432 (16-for-37) during a nine-game hitting streak, is batting .419 (13-for-31) with two homers and three RBIs lifetime versus Duckworth.