Royals, Sox Preview

By: NICOLINO DI BENEDETTO, STATS Writer
By: NICOLINO DI BENEDETTO, STATS Writer

Chi White Sox (64-85) at Kansas City (64-84)

Game Info: 8:10 pm EDT Mon Sep 17, 2007

Having hit his 500th home run, Jim Thome tries to help the lowly Chicago White Sox pull out of last place in the AL Central when they open a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Monday night at Kaufmann Stadium.

Thome became the 23rd player overall to reach 500 career home runs Sunday and he did it in dramatic fashion, ending a stunning 9-7 come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Angels with a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. The dramatic homer capped Chicago's rally from a 7-1 deficit in the seventh inning.

"Just can't believe it. I really can't," said Thome, who joined former White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez as the third player to reach the milestone in 2007. "I would never have imagined doing that as a walk-off. Just amazing to see your teammates standing there. It's like a movie script."

Thome's homer also kept last-place Chicago (64-85) one-half game behind Kansas City (64-84) in the race to avoid finishing at the bottom of the division. The Royals were able to maintain the slight lead on the White Sox by beating first-place Cleveland 4-3 on Sunday.

The White Sox have won eight of 11 meetings with the Royals this season and the teams have seven games left against each other. Despite the success against Kansas City, Chicago has been outscored 49-46 in those contests.

Thome, who has 34 career home runs and a .314 batting average against the Royals, has not fared well against them this season, going 8-for-31 (.258) with one homer and five RBIs in seven games.

The White Sox turn to Javier Vazquez (12-8, 3.90 ERA), who is looking to win a second straight start after a 7-4 win over Cleveland on Wednesday. The veteran right-hander struck out nine Indians and held them to two runs - one earned - and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Vazquez has gone 1-2 with a 5.55 ERA in his last four starts. He hopes to improve on that against a Kansas City team he is 5-2 against with a 2.80 ERA in nine career starts. In his last outing against the Royals on Aug. 21, he was solid in allowing two runs - one earned - and five hits in six innings of a 5-2 home win.

Chicago's offense has struggled to a .245 batting average, the lowest in the majors.

Kansas City has split its last four games following a seven-game losing streak. Emil Brown had three hits and drove in two runs to key Sunday's win.

The Royals will send Kyle Davies (2-5, 5.65) to the mound in his first start against the White Sox.

The 24-year-old right-hander has pitched well in his last two starts, despite being charged with the losses. Davies has allowed six runs - three earned - and seven hits with nine strikeouts in 10 innings over those two outings, getting only three runs of support.


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