Kansas City has long been eliminated from postseason contention, but that has not kept the Royals from stringing together a rare winning streak.
The Royals look to win six in a row for the first time in more than two years while trying to hand the Chicago White Sox - just now mathematically eliminated themselves - a sixth consecutive defeat Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Melky Cabrera(notes) had four hits and came within a triple of the cycle while rookie catcher Salvador Perez(notes) came a home run away from achieving the same feat as Kansas City (65-86) beat Chicago 7-2 on Thursday.
Though the Royals have secured an eighth straight losing season, they have won a season-high five in a row with a young lineup that expects to compete in the future. Kansas City has not won six straight since May 2-7, 2009.
Cabrera is batting a career-high .303 and has already set personal bests with 18 home runs and 82 RBIs. He’s hit .407 (22 for 54) with three home runs and nine RBIs in 12 games versus Chicago in 2011.
“You can pretty much look at any game and he’s made a difference for us offensively,” Butler said.
Perez, batting .318 since making his major league debut Aug. 10, is 15 for 36 during a nine-game hitting streak.
It’s uncertain if Felipe Paulino(notes) (3-6, 4.10 ERA) will be part of the Royals’ plans in 2012, but he takes the mound for this contest after a strong outing in last Saturday’s 4-2 victory at Seattle. He allowed two solo homers but matched a career high with 11 strikeouts in seven innings.
The right-hander gave up three runs and struck out nine in seven innings of a 5-3 win at Chicago on July 5.
Paulino faces a White Sox (73-76) club that has dropped 11 of 16 and was eliminated from the AL Central race Thursday.
“It’s a very disappointing, very inconsistent season,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I have regrets. Regrets we didn’t play better. I thought we had a better shot to win the division.”
Scheduled Chicago starter and ex-Royal Philip Humber(notes) (9-8, 3.43) saw his 13 1-3-inning scoreless streak end Saturday when he allowed two runs in six innings of a 7-3, 10-inning victory over Cleveland. The right-hander is 1-0 in two starts since coming off the disabled list due to a facial contusion, yielding two runs over 13 innings.
Humber, who went 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA in eight appearances for the Royals in 2010, is making his first start against his former team. He threw two scoreless innings of relief at Kansas City in April.