It's the middle of summer so heat can be expected, especially with a 12:15 start. But Thursday's expected game-time temperature of 98 degrees, with a heat index approaching 110 degrees, will put a strain on players from both the visiting Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning through Saturday afternoon. "Dangerously high temperatures and humidity could quickly cause heat stress or heat stroke if precautions are not taken," the official warning stated. "The very young, the elderly, those without air conditioning, and those participating in strenuous outdoor activities will be the most susceptible."
Both teams will be ready.
"Heat's a factor for both teams," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. "You watch how they're doing. Both clubs do everything they can. They have that ammonia ice water; we used to use the same thing. Keep everybody hydrated; keep them cool.
"Obviously it can affect their bodies. What we read in terms of how they're going about their business tells us a lot. We'll try to be mindful of it. The heat index is going to be a little hot, but we'll deal with it, just like everybody else."
The only thing hotter than the weather is the post-All Star Game Royals. They're 5-1 following Wednesday's 7-5 victory, the third straight victory over the White Sox.
A big burden will fall on the starting pitchers, Brad Keller for Kansas City and Ross Detwiler for the White Sox. Dylan Covey originally was scheduled to start for Chicago, but he was used in relief Tuesday.
"(Detwiler) will get the go, and then we will continue to make adjustments as we move forward," Renteria said. "(Covey) is the one we can use in different places. He might be the one that picks up Det tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. Right now, we're being flexible, creative, and trying to maximize all our guys. Hopefully we do it in a good way."
Detwiler (1-0, 5.02 ERA) is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two career starts against Kansas City. He has not faced the Royals since Sept. 2016.
Keller (5-9, 4.25 ERA) matched his career high with eight innings (the fourth time he's done it) on Saturday vs. Detroit. He scattered one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking none. He's now unbeaten in his last four starts and has allowed one run or fewer in four of his last six, dating back to June 14.
"We were going through some mechanical stuff," he said of an in-game conversation with pitching coach Cal Eldred. "Today was probably the best I felt as far as that. Once you're in your delivery, it's a lot easier to pump strikes like that. It felt good today."
Keller will face the White Sox for the fifth time this season, earning a 1-2 record and 2.77 ERA against Chicago. He's 3-3 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) lifetime vs. the White Sox, with 38 strikeouts, his most wins and strikeouts against a single opponent.
He has done well against all AL Central opponents. He's 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA (18 earned runs in 68 innings pitched) in 11 starts vs. the division this season, the second-lowest ERA against the division this year (min. 40.0 IP).
--Field Level Media