Royals Face White Sox

By: By KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer
By: By KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer


The Chicago White Sox starters have taken some pressure off the team's anemic offense. A matchup against one of worst pitching staffs in the majors might do the same.

On Friday, Chicago (16-15) opens a three-game series against the slumping Kansas City Royals, owners of the AL's worst record at 11-24.

The White Sox play their next 15 games in Chicago, including a three-game set next weekend against the crosstown rival Cubs. At 5-7, the White Sox have both the fewest home wins in the AL and have played the fewest home games in the league.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen hopes the trip home will help improve the team's league-worst .223 batting average.

Chicago has won has four of its last five primarily because of their starters, who have a 2.02 ERA in that span. After rookie John Danks allowed just one run through 6 2-3 innings of a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, Jose Contreras pitched a five-hit shutout on Thursday for a 3-0 victory.

Despite the early offensive struggles, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said he's seeing signs of improvement.

"We're still not hitting the way we think we're capable of, but we're getting close," said Pierzynski, who had an RBI on Thursday. "If we can keep our pitching going, we're eventually going to get hot."

Pierzynski is hitting .429 (6-for-14) with a homer and five RBIs in his last four games.

Chicago hopes a matchup against the Royals pitching staff will help spark some life into the offense. Kansas City allowed 25 runs during its three-game series with Oakland, with most of the damage being done in Thursday's 17-3 loss -- the team's fifth in the last six games and 12th in the last 16.

Kansas City used six pitchers overall, and the team's ERA rose to 4.79 after allowing its most runs since a 21-6 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 25, 2004.

"Everything they hit fell in or went over the fence," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "It was a bad game. I'm not even going to think about it, just throw it away."

Opponents are batting .292 against Royals pitchers.

The Royals will send Odalis Perez (2-3, 6.75 ERA) to the mound for the opener. Perez lasted six innings against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, giving up four runs and seven hits, but did not factor in the 7-5 loss.

The left-hander is 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in four starts against the White Sox.

Chicago will counter with Jon Garland (1-2, 3.92), who finally picked up his first win of the season on Saturday in a 6-3 win over the Angels. The right-hander pitched seven innings, allowing three runs and eight hits.

"I want to win every game I start," said Garland, who was winless in five starts before Saturday. "It took a little bit longer than expected, but it was nice to get that win."

Garland is 13-5 with a 4.00 ERA in 29 appearances -- 26 starts -- against the Royals. But he's 8-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 14 starts and two relief appearances at home.

Chicago swept a two-game set at Kansas City on April 23 and 24.


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