Royals-White Sox Preview
The Kansas City Royals have little left to play for after falling short of the playoffs for a 28th straight year, but they'll surely want to avoid being shut out a third straight time for the first time in nine seasons.
The Chicago White Sox are already assured of their first last-place finish in 24 years.
Kansas City visits Chicago on Thursday night for the opener of a four-game series to end the season.
The Royals' 6-0 loss Wednesday, combined with victories from all three teams ahead of them in the AL wild-card standings, officially eliminated them from playoff contention. They were a night removed from a 4-0 loss, marking the first time they've been blanked in back-to-back games since May 22-23, 2009, at St. Louis.
Kansas City (83-75), which last made the playoffs in 1985, hasn't been shut out in three straight since July 5-7, 2004, at Minnesota.
"Back-to-back shutouts, you're not going to win any games scoring zero runs," said Alex Gordon, who was 2 for 4. "It's kind of a tough way to go out."
Chicago (62-96), which has lost 20 of 26, is headed for a last-place divisional finish for the first time since 1989. The White Sox, who are trying to avoid falling 35 games under .500 for the first time since ending the 1970 season 56-106, must win once in this series to avoid finishing with 100 losses, which would be the fourth-most in franchise history.
The Royals, though, are the only divisional foe Chicago owns a winning record against this year at 8-7.
The White Sox were without Paul Konerko in a 7-2 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday after he fouled a pitch off his right knee a day earlier. Konerko said he expects to play against the Royals.
"Every year there's players who have good years and players who have bad years," Konerko said. "There's no rhyme or reason to some of it. There are always little moments that shape a season. It just seemed like everything that could go wrong went wrong, between the lines, outside the lines."
Chicago was also without Gordon Beckham due to a leg injury. Beckham had recorded four doubles while hitting safely in each of his last seven games.
The White Sox have knocked around scheduled starter Jeremy Guthrie (14-12, 4.09 ERA) the last two times they've faced him, tagging him for 11 runs over 8 1-3 innings. He had been 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in the previous six matchups, including one shutout.
Guthrie has dropped back-to-back starts while surrendering 20 hits and six runs over 14 innings.
Adam Dunn, given the day off Wednesday, will try to turn things around as he's 7 for 71 (.099) over his last 22 games with 36 strikeouts. He's 4 for 26 off Guthrie with 12 strikeouts.
Chicago will give the ball to rookie right-hander Andre Rienzo (2-2, 5.04), who has surrendered five earned runs in three of his last four outings, including an 8-1 loss to Cleveland on Sept. 14, when he gave up seven hits and four walks over four-plus innings.
Rienzo recorded a 3.56 ERA through his first five starts - the last of which was a 5-2 victory at Kansas City on Aug. 21, when he surrendered two runs and five hits in six innings.