After taking a step back in the AL Central race, the Chicago White Sox will try to make up ground by taking advantage of a more favorable schedule. Another strong start from surprising recent acquisition Edwin Jackson(notes) could get that stretch off to a positive start.
The right-hander will try to stay unbeaten with the White Sox as they open a three-game series at the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Chicago (66-55) routed Minnesota 11-0 on Thursday, but one-run losses in the previous two games at Target Field helped drop the White Sox four back of the Twins in the division.
“We will fight to the end,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “How’s the fight going to go? I don’t know how the fight is going to go, but we’re going to fight like a champ. We’re not down.”
Before meeting Minnesota again Sept. 14, Guillen’s club will attempt to climb back towards first place while playing 16 of their next 22 contests against sub-.500 clubs.
That may not be as easy as it seems as the Royals (51-70) have won four of six overall and six of eight at home against Chicago. They were denied a season-high fourth straight victory Thursday, however, as they gave up all of Cleveland’s runs in the final two innings of a 7-3 defeat.
“It always stings when you play a game like that and lose it late,” manager Ned Yost said. “They hurt more than the other ones.”
The White Sox swept Kansas City in the most recent matchup July 9-11 at U.S. Cellular Field and enter the opener having produced double-digit hits in six consecutive games, including a season-high 21 on Thursday. They’ll also send out Jackson (1-0, 1.35 ERA), who has a string of impressive outings since returning to the AL in a trade with Arizona on July 30.
The right-hander lost his final four games with the Diamondbacks but has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his three starts for Chicago. Jackson, who also pitched for Tampa Bay and Detroit, gave up one run over seven innings and struck out 11 in his home debut, a 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Saturday.
“Another good start,” Guillen said. “Three out of three. You can’t be better than that.”
Jackson is 3-3 with a 5.08 ERA in six career starts against the Royals and 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in two at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City, meanwhile, will send out the struggling Sean O’Sullivan(notes) (1-4, 5.27), whose acquisition hasn’t paid off quite as well. The right-hander, picked up in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels on July 22, is 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts with the Royals and gave up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees.
O’Sullivan dropped his only start against the White Sox on Aug. 5, 2009, as he allowed four runs over five innings of a 6-2 defeat.
Chicago leads this season’s series 7-5 after splitting 18 matchups with Kansas City in 2009.
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