As the teams open a three-game series, the White Sox will try to run their win streak to six by denying the Royals a season-high fourth straight victory Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago enters the matchup one-half game behind division-leading Detroit thanks to its 22-5 record since June 8. The White Sox (46-38) earned their 11th home win in 12 tries with Thursday’s 1-0 victory over the Angels.
“This could have been the biggest game we have this year,” manager Ozzie Guillen said.
With its fifth shutout in less than a month, Chicago lowered its ERA over the last 27 games to 2.39. Friday’s scheduled starter Mark Buehrle(notes) is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA over his last five starts but couldn’t end his recent struggles against Kansas City (39-46).
The Royals dealt Buehrle (7-7, 4.53 ERA) the lone loss in that span June 28. The veteran left-hander is 20-11 with a 3.67 ERA in 43 career starts against the Royals but has lost his last three, including both matchups this season.
After falling to Kansas City, he allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings in a 5-3 road win Sunday over a hot-hitting Texas team.
He’ll face another Friday as the Royals are batting .300 during their current 10-3 stretch, raising their major league-best average to .283. Included in that run is a home series win over the White Sox at the end of June.
However, the status of one of their contributors, Jose Guillen(notes), is unknown because of a strained left quad, suffered on Tuesday. The Royals outfielder, hitting .327 since June 3, said he wants to return to the field.
Several other Royals are swinging hot bats. David DeJesus(notes) is batting .385 since May 12, Former White Sox player Scott Podsednik(notes) is hitting .354 in his last 15 games, and Billy Butler(notes) .349 over his past 23.
That support has helped Bruce Chen(notes) to a 4-2 record since he joined the rotation May 30, but he’s aided himself with a 2.19 ERA in back-to-back victories. He retired the first 18 batters he faced in Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Angels.
“I’ve worked very hard and have persevered throughout my entire career, and I’m putting everything together,” Chen said.
Chen (5-2, 3.51), who hasn’t won three consecutive outings since August 2005, is 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA in three career starts versus the White Sox and will make his first at U.S. Cellular Field since May 12, 2005.
While the Royals have won consecutive series over the White Sox, they lost two of three in their only appearance in Chicago this season May 3-5. The teams have split 12 games there since the beginning of last season.
Kansas City, which holds a 5-4 edge in this year’s series, hasn’t finished with a winning record against the White Sox since 2000. The Royals are trying to win four straight for the first time since a five-game run Sept. 7-11 and match a season high with their fourth consecutive road win.