Chicago White Sox: Kansas City Royals
Now that the Royals have swept the Los Angeles Angels in the division series, though, the 2005 connection is becoming clear again, and not just because of the composition of Kansas City's roster. The White Sox also tallied a division series sweep in 2005, blowing through the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox to do it.
Keeping the comparison going is only going to get tougher for the Royals. The White Sox not only went on to win four of five games in the 2005 American league Championship Series, they closed with four consecutive complete games from their starters.
But Konerko's comparison was more about a Royals team that was pitching well heading into the postseason, especially from its bullpen, with an offense that might not be one of the best in baseball, but knows how to deliver when it needs to.
Konerko made the connection at none other than his speech to White Sox fans during Paul Konerko Day, one day before the club's season ended. Konerko took a moment early in his speech to congratulate the Royals for earning a postseason spot.
"Good luck to you guys," Konerko said, microphone in hand while turning toward the Royals dugout. "Represent the (American League) Central. You guys remind me of a team I played for once. You guys can go do it. Represent."
Now the Royals sit eight victories from their wildest dream, while Konerko is closer to saying, "I told you so," if he ever did things like that.
Asked about recognizing the Royals in his speech, Konerko stood by what he said. He wasn't giving praise, just because the Royals were in the room.
"What I told them was true," Konerko said. "That team right there looks a lot like the team that won the World Series here as far as how they're built. Good luck to them. I hope they do it. I hope they get the same feeling I had. It was great."
With a victory well within their grasp, the White Sox managed to lose yet another one to the Kansas City Royals when closer Addison Reed followed two walks with a two-out, two-run, game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth inning.
That is the same Reed who had converted 17 consecutive save chances going back to last season and 10 of his first 10 chances to start this season.
"I pitch for an audience of one (God). He is excited to watch me pitch," Floyd said. "I just hope we can win when I pitch. Sometimes it happens sometimes it doesn't."
Floyd struck out five over six innings and allowed all three runs in the fifth inning of his 94-pitch outing.
"Other than the one inning he was aggressive," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He threw first-pitch strikes. I thought he pitched well enough to get a win today.”
With the completion of the much-analyzed trade between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays, the first game of the season, a mere 112 days away, is starting to take shape.
With all apologies to the recently re-signed Jake Peavy and the recovering John Danks, we'll just go head and pencil in the Opening Day probables as White Sox left-hander Chris Sale vs. Royals right-hander James Shields on April 1, during what is sure to be a brisk afternoon on the South Side.
KANSAS CITY-- A quick look at the Chicago White Sox's 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
How it happened: The White Sox scored their first run off Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie in almost 24 innings. Alejandro De Aza scored on AJ Pierzynski’s RBI single in the first inning. The Sox scored two unearned runs in the second as Guthrie threw a ball away on Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice bunt attempt. Starter Francisco Liriano allowed just one base hit through four innings. The Royals scored two runs on Johnny Giavotella’s triple that scored Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur in the fifth. Liriano came out of the game in the sixth with one on, one out and slugger Billy Butler at the plate. Reliever Nate Jones surrendered a game-tying double to Butler. The Sox cost themselves on the base paths as Alex Rios was tagged out at the plate after hesitating on a ball that eluded Royals catcher Salvador Perez. And Alexei Ramirez was picked off third base in the fourth inning.
What it means: The Sox could not take advantage of Detroit's loss, and their lead remained at two games.
Outside the box: The White Sox refused to discuss a USA TODAY report that GM Kenny Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn will receive promotions after the 2012 season. Williams tells ESPNChicago.com that any comment would detract from the on-field performance of the team.
Up next: The Sox travel to Anaheim to conclude a nine-game road trip with three against the Angels. RHP Jake Peavy (11-11 3.26 ) faces RHP Ervin Santana (8-12 5.08 ) on Friday.
Manager Robin Ventura decided that a day's rest for Konerko would be a good idea with 14 games left in the season and no off days for the White Sox, who took a 2 1/2-game lead over the Detroit Tigers into Wednesday's game.
"I don't know if it is real bad," Ventura said. "It is bad enough that he could use a day. It has been off and on, but lately it has been a little more."
Manager Robin Ventura’s ballclub was just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position as they lost 3-0 to nemesis Bruce Chen. Of the 11 runners left on base, three came in the fourth when the Sox loaded the bases with no outs. Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez both popped out to the infield and Tyler Flowers struck out.
"It looked like we were running a pop-up drill for them," Ventura said. "This just wasn’t a good effort. You tip your hat to him because Bruce was getting out of any jam he had."
The home run-happy Sox have scored 45 percent of their runs via the long ball in 2012. Of more concern to the White Sox is their lack of timely hitting as of late. The team is in a funk over the last 13 games as they have hit under .200 with runners in scoring position.
"We have been relying on home runs for a period of time now," Alex Rios said. "We have to get better at scoring some runs with base hits and dong the little stuff."
Ventura was more forthright about his disappointing offense than he has been all season, though the defense was suspect as well. Viciedo misplayed a fly ball in the seventh that resulted in K.C. scoring two runs.
"That did not cost us the game," Ventura said. "Us not scoring cost us the game. When you get into double digits of leaving men on base that is the issue, not defense."
The Sox entered the game hitting .279 with men in scoring position, second only to the Colorado Rockies in that department. Expect some extra batting practice for the Sox on Thursday and some direct comments from Ventura and hitting coach Jeff Manto on the overall team approach.
How it happened: The White Sox, riding the wave of a five-game winning streak, had their ace Chris Sale on the mound Wednesday evening. Sale, a 17-game winner, was hoping to become the team’s first 18-game winner since Jon Garland won that many in 2006. The Royals scored in the third inning as Sox slayer Billy Butler drove in his 98th run of the season with a sacrifice fly. Leadoff man Jason Bourgeous scored after Kansas City had loaded the bases with one out. Sale continued to raise his pitch count working out of trouble in the early innings with 73 pitches through four innings. By contrast the Sox were 1-for-12 with men in scoring position through eight innings off nemesis Bruce Chen and the Royals bullpen. The Sox had the bases loaded in the third with no outs and failed to score.Alex Gordon’s two-run double eluded right fielder Dayan Viciedo in the seventh, ending Sale’s evening.
What it means: The Sox magic number remained at 13 after the Tigers beat Oakland.
Outside the box: Chen is 6-2 against Chicago over the past two seasons and Kansas City has won 11 of 17 in the season series.
Up next: LHP Francisco Liriano ( 6-11 5.24 ) opposes RHP Jeremy Guthrie ( 7-12 4.92 ) in the finale of the three game set. (7:10 CST).
How it happened: The White Sox won their fourth straight by getting off to an early lead as Alejandro De Aza hit his third lead-off home run and eighth overall. The Royals countered with two runs off Sox starter Gavin Floyd as Billy Butler drove in both runs with a single. Gordon Beckham then hit his 16th home run in the sixth. Alex Rios hit his 24th in the seventh off starter Luke Hochevar. Floyd earned his first victory since Aug. 15th. He was making his second start since coming off of the DL with a tender right elbow.
What it means: The Sox had lost seven of the last eight against the Royals. Floyd threw seven innings for the first time since July 7th, allowing two runs on five hits. The Sox stayed three games head of the Tigers, who defeated the A's. Detroit starter Max Scherzer had to leave the game and underwent an MRI on his arm.
Outside the box: Manager Robin Ventura confirmed that his pitching rotation will stay the same through the weekend, with Francisco Liriano getting the start on Thursday. Ventura also said he would use a rotation of Dewayne Wise, De Aza and Dayan Vicedo in the outfield mix.
Up next: White Sox ace Chris Sale (17-6 2.78 ) matches up with RHP Luis Mendoza ( 7-9 4.50 ).
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Kansas City Royals’ 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday.
How it happened: The Royals extended their winning streak to six games over the White Sox thanks to Lorenzo Cain’s bat. He hit two home runs, including a two-run shot off White Sox reliever Addison Reed to break a 5-5 tie in the ninth inning. Reed has allowed at least one run in five of his last six appearances and his ERA has risen to 4.56. The White Sox had fought back from a 5-3 deficit to tie the game when Alexei Ramirez homered in the sixth inning. Dewayne Wise and A.J. Pierzynski also homered for the White Sox. Starting pitcher Francisco Liriano struggled again for the White Sox as he allowed six hits, five runs and four walks in five innings. He’s walked 15 hitters in his last three starts.
What it means: The Royals now lead their season’s series 9-4 over the White Sox. The White Sox do remain a ½ game ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. The Tigers were tied with the Los Angeles Angles in the fourth inning at the conclusion of the White Sox’s game.
The Royals have certainly earned the White Sox’s attention in the past few years. The Royals lead this season’s series 8-4, winning five consecutive games by a 25-11 margin. They have won 18 of their 27 games against the White Sox.
“It’s like that sometimes,” White Sox outfielder Dewayne Wise said prior to Friday’s game. “I’m pretty sure every team has that one team out there. Kansas City, they always give us a hard time. … We can’t take these guys lightly.”
Here’s the White Sox’s lineup against the Royals on Friday:
1. Alejandro De Aza, CF
2. Jose Lopez, 3B
3. Dewayne Wise, LF
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. Alex Rios, RF
6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
7. Dayan Viciedo, DH
8. Alexei Ramirez, SS
9. Gordon Beckham, 2B
LHP Francisco Liriano
How it happened: For the second straight game, the typically hard-hitting White Sox barely made a ripple offensively. They had no answer for right hander Jeremy Guthrie, who entered the game winless and with a 7.71 ERA on the season. Meanwhile, rookie Jose Quintana went seven-plus innings, giving up two runs - a home run each to Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez - on five hits. Quintana, who pitched on eight days rest, struck out five and walked two.
What it means: The Sox maintain a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central after losing two in a row to the last-place Royals. The Sox had won four straight series and five straight at home entering this three-game set against Kansas City.
Outside the box: A.J. Pierzynski’s RBI single in the ninth was his eighth RBI in six games this month. He has 13 RBIs during his current 10-game hitting streak.
CHICAGO -- Here’s a look at the White Sox’s 5-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
How it happened: Starting pitchers Bruce Chen and Jake Peavy both found success early on, as Chen at one point retired nine straight batters and Peavy took a two-hitter into the sixth, which was when things started to go south for the Sox right hander. The Royals scored their first run in the sixth off a sacrifice fly and scored two more runs on five hits in the seventh to take the lead for good. The Royals got to the Sox’s bullpen, too, as Billy Butler crushed a 422-foot two-run home run off of Nate Jones in the eighth, with Leyson Septimo being charged for one of those runs. Gordon Beckham got the Sox on the board in the first with a leadoff home run and Adam Dunn drove in their other run in the sixth.
What it means: The White Sox now have a half game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central Division. The Sox fell to 3-2 on their current home stand and have split eight games this season against the last-place Royals.
Outside the box: Dunn has two hits in his last 19 at bats, which includes his RBI single in the sixth. It was just his second RBI in his last nine games. Dunn, who leads the majors with 31 home runs, is homerless in his last nine games.
CHICAGO -- Here’s a look at the Sox’s 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday.
How it happened: All eyes were on Chris Sale, the White Sox's left-hander who took the mound on nine days rest. Sale was solid early on, working quickly and throwing in the mid 90s. In the fifth inning he was hit hard by three straight batters, including Jeff Francoeur’s solo home run to right field and then gave up a 403-foot homer to Billy Butler in the seventh. He got out of a jam in the eighth, with runners on first and third, courtesy of some timely defensive gems. First, Alexei Ramirez dove across his body to snare a infield blooper. Then, Sale cleanly fielded a bunt near the third base line and tagged out a runner near the plate. And for some theatrics, Sale fanned Lorenzo Cain on three pitches. Sale went eight innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, striking out seven and walking none. The Sox’s bats came alive late in the game. Paul Konerko hit a solo homer in the seventh, Gordon Beckham provided the go-ahead run with his 10th homer of the season in the eighth and Kevin Youkilis added to the lead with a RBI double. A.J. Pierzynski drove in the Sox’s first run of the night with a double in the second inning.
What it means: The Sox have won five of their last six games and 10 of their last 13. A win Tuesday will give them their fifth consecutive series victory.
Outside the box: A.J. Pierzynski’s home run streak was snapped at five games, which left him one shy of the setting the club record for consecutive games with a home run. Pierzynski did, however, go 2-for-3 with an RBI. And he still leads all major league catchers in home runs (21).