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Series preview: Royals at White Sox

4/23/2015

CHICAGO – Now that the Chicago White Sox have finally started to step up their game in recent days, perhaps a matchup against the Kansas City Royals can look closer to a fair fight.

The Royals will head into U.S. Cellular Field as one of the better teams in baseball with an 11-4 record, riding the momentum of a playoff run in 2014 that landed them in the World Series.

The Royals and White Sox definitely looked like they were playing on different levels when the division rivals opened the season at Kansas City earlier this month.

The Royals went on the attack from the start, leaving the White Sox to look like they didn’t know what hit them. Kansas City was better in all facets of the game from starting pitching to offense, defense and especially in the bullpen.

The White Sox’s bullpen, though, is the area in which the club has improved the most since the start of the season. The Royals, on the other hand, are without closer Greg Holland, who is on the disabled list with a pectoral strain.

The Royals will also have to contend with White Sox starter Chris Sale for the first time. The staff ace did not pitch in the season-opening series as he was still recovering from a foot injury he suffered in spring training. Sale is 7-8 lifetime against the Royals, but he does have a 2.68 ERA against them in 24 appearances (13 starts).

Head to head

Royals starter Yordano Ventura has a 4.67 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox, his worst ERA against any American League Central opponent. … The White Sox’s Jose Abreu is 3 for 7 (.429) lifetime against Royals starter Danny Duffy with a double and a home run. … Kansas City starter Edinson Volquez made his Royals debut April 9 against the White Sox, giving up one run on four hits in eight innings, picking up the victory. … Expect the White Sox’s Gordon Beckham to start at third base Sunday. He is a career .400 hitter (6 for 15) against Royals left-hander Jason Vargas, who is scheduled to pitch in the series finale. … The Royals’ Lorenzo Cain is 13 for 37 (.351) lifetime against Sale, while Alcides Escobar is 18 for 45 (.400). … The Royals’ Eric Hosmer is a modest 8 for 35 in his career against White Sox starter Jose Quintana, but he has driven in eight runs with those eight hits. … White Sox starter John Danks had never lost a decision to the Royals in 16 starts before this season, but lost in his season debut when he gave up four runs on seven hits over 5⅔ innings on April 9 at Kansas City. … The Royals Kendrys Morales is 4 for 10 with two home runs against White Sox starter Hector Noesi.

Notes

Since the start of last season, Abreu has 41 home runs, second in all of baseball in that time period to Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners, who has 48. … Abreu has a home run in the first inning in each of his past two games and has homers in consecutive games for the fifth time in his career. … The White Sox are 4-2 in home games so far this season. … The White Sox’s Micah Johnson has hit safely in each of his last five games, going 6 for 14 (.429) over that stretch. … The White Sox’s bullpen has gone 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA and 33 strikeouts in the last 10 games. … Royals second baseman Omar Infante has missed the last three games with a strained left groin, but is expected to return during the upcoming series. … The Royals outscored the White Sox 21-7 in a season-opening three-game sweep at Kansas City. … The Royals are 4-2 in their last six games, with both defeats coming when they were shut out.

Pitching matchups:

Thursday: White Sox LH Chris Sale (2-0, 2.25) vs. Royals RH Yordano Ventura (2-1, 4.80), 7:10 p.m. CST

Friday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (1-1, 8.40) vs. Royals LH Danny Duffy (1-0, 5.51), 7:10 p.m. CST

Saturday: White Sox LH John Danks ( 0-2, 6.06) vs. Royals RH Edinson Volquez (2-1, 1.99), 1:10 p.m. CST

Sunday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (0-2, 5.23) vs. Royals LH Jason Vargas (1-1, 6.75), 1:10 p.m. CST