Royals-White Sox Preview


The Kansas City Royals and starter James Shields have enjoyed plenty of recent success at U.S. Cellular Field.

As Shields looks to win a fourth consecutive start there, Kansas City tries to capture a fourth straight road series over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

The Royals (49-50) have won seven of their previous eight series at U.S. Cellular.

They finally found some offense in Tuesday's 7-1 victory to win for the 11th time in 13 games there and even this set at 1-all. They had scored 17 runs over their previous eight games, resulting in seven losses.

Mike Moustakas homered twice on a 3-for-5 night to pace the 14-hit effort. The third baseman is still batting just .198, but his last 15 games have produced a .286 clip.

"He's starting to swing the bat pretty good," manager Ned Yost said. "We've seen him in spurts, it doesn't matter who's pitching. When he's right, he's putting good swings on the ball."

Conversely, Chicago manager Robin Ventura said it's no wonder why his team hasn't been able to string together more than three wins since May 4-7.

"We didn't pitch well, we didn't field well, we didn't hit well, so your chances of extending a winning streak aren't going to happen, so you just have to be better than that," Ventura said.

The Royals have won five of six overall against the White Sox (48-53) behind a 1.87 ERA.

Both teams have streaking first basemen who were held out of the lineup Tuesday. White Sox rookie Jose Abreu, who has hit safely in 12 straight and 30 of 31, missed the game with back stiffness but is expected to return Wednesday. He's just 5 for 26 against Royals pitching.

Kansas City's Eric Hosmer, riding a 16-game streak with a .413 average, has missed the first two games of the series due to a bruised hand. Hosmer isn't expected back in the finale.

Shields (9-5, 3.70 ERA) had been strong in two starts leading into the All-Star break, but returned to his rather hittable ways in Friday's 5-4 loss in Boston. He wasn't stuck with the decision but allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.

"I didn't do my job of getting outs," Shields said.

That's been the case far more frequently this season than the previous three as Shields' .274 opponent average and .317 on-base percentage have jumped from his combined 2011-13 marks of .236 and .292.

The right-hander gave up 10 hits in six innings at U.S. Cellular on June 15 but won there for the third straight time in a 6-3 victory. He has a 1.95 ERA in his last five outings on the South Side, and he's 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA in eight starts against the White Sox since joining Kansas City prior to last season.

Alexei Ramirez is 20 for 48 off Shields.

Chicago counters with Jose Quintana.

Quintana (5-7, 3.26) yielded two runs and three hits while striking out eight in five innings before leaving without the decision in Friday's 3-2 win over Houston. The left-hander failed to make it through seven innings for the first time in six starts, but he's 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 40 2-3 innings during that span.

He's never beaten Kansas City, posting an 0-5 record and 4.52 ERA in 10 career starts, including losses in two matchups this season with a 6.08 ERA.

Quintana has struggled against Moustakas (8 for 22 with two homers) and Nori Aoki (5 for 11). He's done better with Alex Gordon (4 for 26) and Billy Butler (5 for 24 with 10 strikeouts).

Chicago's Adam Eaton is batting .429 over a nine-game hitting streak.