The Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox each split half their games in the first week of the season, and after a rare Friday day off, they face each other Saturday afternoon in Chicago for the second game of a three-game series.
Kansas City lefty Mike Minor (1-0, 6.00 ERA) will face White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease (0-0, 5.79 ERA).
The Royals have only had one close game (decided by one or two runs) in their six decisions. They scored in double figures in their first two games and secured their third win with a 3-0 shutout. Yet, they have scored a total of five runs in their three losses.
It’s still too early to calculate a pattern, but Royals manager Mike Matheny would like to see a solid start from Minor, who takes the mound for the second time this season.
In the club’s second game, Minor picked up the victory despite allowing four earned runs in his first three innings. He settled down with three more shutout innings as the Royals came from behind to defeat the Texas Rangers 11-4.
“I could have been better, but I made a lot of good pitches,” Minor said after that game. “I had a bad inning. I got behind in some counts. But overall, I threw some really good pitches.”
The biggest inconsistency has been the starting pitching. Their top three starters — Brad Keller, Minor and Brady Singer — have a combined 12.21 ERA in four starts. Meanwhile, while their fourth and possibly fifth starters – Danny Duffy and Jakob Junis — have pitched 11 scoreless innings.
Keller was shelled for the second straight start Thursday, and he has an ERA of 19.29 after 4 2/3 innings. Matheny says he isn’t worried.
“As I told him as he was walking off the mound today: ‘We’ve got all the faith in the world in you that you’re going to get this figured out. And you’re going to come back and you’re going to lead this staff,'” Matheny said. “And that’s exactly what I want him to believe.”
The White Sox have been all over the board as well. All four of their wins have come by at least four runs, with three of them coming by six runs, like Thursday’s 6-0 victory over the Royals in the series opener.
Their four losses have come by one, two, three and four runs.
Two White Sox starters have ERAs of 0.00, while the other three are over 4.00. Cease, who carries a 5.79 ERA after getting no decision in a 7-4 loss to the Angels, will be looking for his own improvement in consistency. He struggled in the first inning of his first start, allowing a 451-foot homer to Shohei Ohtani, before settling down. He finished with three runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
“Really, I wanted to get through five. I just tried to pound the zone,” Cease said. “If I’m a little sharper, we probably get through it. At the end of the day, I kept us in there. So I’m decently happy with that.
“It’s all a process. I expect more out of myself, and I think there will be better times ahead.”
He’s hoping that starts Saturday, when he starts against the Royals for the fifth time in his career. He’s 2-1 against them, with a 4.22 ERA, 17 strikeouts, 10 walks in 21 1/3 innings.
Minor is 0-2 in his career two starts against the White Sox, but in his seven total appearances he has a 2.89 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.
–Field Level Media