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Series preview: Royals at White Sox

7/21/2014

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox will return to American League Central play this week, set on tracking down not one, but two break-even points in the standings.

The White Sox will play host to the Kansas City Royals for a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field starting Monday night with a 17-21 record in division play and a 47-51 overall record.

Monday's game is the start of a 13-game run all against AL Central rivals. After the Royals, the White Sox will head to Minnesota and Detroit, before coming home to start August with a series against the Twins.

The White Sox are currently nine games behind the first-place Tigers in the AL Central, but are just two games behind the third-place Royals. The Cleveland Indians are 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers in second place.

"(Division games) are very important, and we see it as such, especially when you're playing with guys ahead of you," leadoff man Adam Eaton said. "I'm not sure where we rank right now, but they're very important, and we'll continue to battle day in and day out and take the same approach as we did today, yesterday and the day before: Good pitching and timely hitting."

John Danks had a rocky start Sunday against the Houston Astros, but likes the team's chances in the kickoff game against division foes Monday.

"We've got to win all the games we can," Danks said. "We've dug a little hole in the first half. There's plenty of baseball left, but we've got to get on a roll. We've got the right guy going Monday."

That "right guy" is left-hander Chris Sale, who will bring an 8-1 record and a 2.08 ERA into his first start since appearing in last week's All-Star Game.

HEAD TO HEAD

The White Sox's Alexei Ramirez is just 8-for-45 (.178) against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie in his career, while Adam Eaton is 3-for-7 (.429) with two walks. ... If it seems that Royals starter Bruce Chen is always matched up against the White Sox, he must feel the same way. The left-hander's 124 2/3 innings against the White Sox are easily his most against any team and his 3.47 ERA is third-best among AL clubs, trailing only his 3.46 mark against the Tampa Bay Rays and his 2.97 number against the Toronto Blue Jays. ... Ramirez feasts on Royals starter James Shields, going 20-for-48 (.417) against him in his career with two home runs. ... The Royals' Mike Moustakas is just 4-for-20 (.200) in his career against Sale, but Alcides Escobar is 15-for-39 (.385). ... White Sox starter, and Kansas City-area native, Scott Carroll has faced the Royals twice, giving up six runs and eight hits in a no-decision in May and then giving up one run in a three-inning relief appearance in June. ... The Royals' Billy Butler might hit Sale well (14-for-37 with three home runs), but he doesn't do that much against White Sox starter Jose Quintana (5-for-24, no home runs).

NOTES

Jose Abreu has hit safely in 29 of his past 30 games and is batting .353 over that stretch. He is also on an 11-game hitting streak where he is batting .400 (18-for-45). ... Eaton is on a modest seven-game hitting streak where he is 12-for-28 (.429), and has three multi-hit efforts over his past five games. ... The White Sox's pitching staff is coming off a game where it matched a season high by allowing 17 hits. It also happened May 13 against the Oakland Athletics. ... The White Sox are just 3-5 over their past eight games. ... Conor Gillaspie is batting .419 (13-for-31) with four doubles, three home runs, six RBIs and nine runs scored over his past nine games. ... The Royals opened the second half by getting swept over the weekend in a three-game series at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. ... Guthrie, who starts the series opener for the Royals, has a 10.43 ERA over his past three outings.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Monday: White Sox LH Chris Sale (8-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. Royals RH Jeremy Guthrie (5-8, 4.56), 7:10 p.m. CST

Tuesday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (4-5, 4.19) vs. Royals LH Bruce Chen (1-2, 6.46), 7:10 p.m. CST

Wednesday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.26) vs. Royals RH James Shields (9-5, 3.70), 1:10 p.m. CST