The Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox will face off Thursday with the winner taking the season series. The two teams have split the first 18 games following Kansas City's 8-6 victory Wednesday night.
The Royals will be going for a season-best fourth straight series win.
Both pitchers will be trying to keep the ball in the yard, as 23 of 24 runs in the first two games of this midweek series have been scored on home runs.
Lopez recorded the longest scoreless start of his career Friday in Miami, fanning five over six innings of a 3-0 victory. He scattered four hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Lopez has struck out 23 batters in 16 innings in three career outings (two starts) against the White Sox, his highest rate vs. any team against whom he has started.
He's 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three outings (two starts) against the White Sox in 2019. Those are the only appearances against Chicago in his career.
Lopez is trying to earn a spot in the Royals' 2020 rotation. A year ago, he took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Twins in September, a start that displayed the stuff that earned him a spot in the rotation at the beginning of the 2019 season.
"No doubt he has as good of stuff as anyone on our staff," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's always just been a matter of him being able to command it with consistency.
"Going into next spring, I'm confident he will be in contention for a spot. It will depend on what he is able to do this winter and how he continues to grow, and how he produces next spring."
Giolito not only has a spot in the rotation lined up, he's a Cy Young contender for the White Sox. He's been one of their bright spots in 2019. The 2019 American League All-Star has cooled off a little since the break, with a 3-5 record in 11 starts. But he's still sporting a 3.44 ERA in those starts.
He's 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA in five starts against the Royals in 2019. His six career wins (in seven decisions) are the most against any opponent. He has a 2.34 career ERA in 11 starts against Kansas City.
With six strikeouts recorded over seven innings in his last start, Giolito raised his single-season total to 216, the eighth-highest total in franchise history.
"It's pretty cool," Giolito said. "I knew that I was a high strikeout pitcher and it was in there somewhere. I just had to make the necessary adjustments to get it to come out. It feels good that I'm putting together a season like this, and I just want to continue to keep doing it and finish strong."
Both teams have five series remaining after Thursday's game. The White Sox still have a home-and-home with the Tigers, the team with the worst record in baseball. They have a three-game road series against the Twins, their only remaining opponent currently in playoff position. The cumulative winning percentage of the opponents in the White Sox remaining 16 games is .412.
The Royals, however, are through with teams with sub-.500 records after Thursday's game. In fact, every team remaining on the schedule either is in first place (Astros, Twins and Braves) or holding down a wild-card spot currently (A's). The cumulative winning percentage of the opponents in the Royals' remaining 15 games is .618.
--Field Level Media