With the White Sox still a 10-game winning streak from even being .500 near the end of June, “bereft of hope” is still pretty much the state of affairs in the Southside Showdown’s writer’s room (it’s one of those rooms you enter in your mind).
However, being last place in the AL Central does have its advantages. Only here can the White Sox fully embrace the sardonic delights of the spoiler role. Since the Tigers are runaway favorites with a pitching staff and offense that begs the questions of why they’re not further out ahead, that role is really just limited to crushing whatever hope is left in the ‘This is Our Year!’ campaigns of the newly ‘win-now’ focused Royals and Indians.
Nothing says “Maybe you need to step back and re-group” like dropping a three-game set at home to the worst offense in the American League (Yup, Sox are still the worst, but damn if the Yanks aren’t gaining on them), and that’s exactly what the Royals find themselves on the precipice of on this fine Sunday after compiling a whopping three runs of offense against Hector Santiago and Jose Quintana, and nothing at all against the Sox bullpen.
White Sox Lineup
Dylan Axelrod, SP
Unfortunately, the Royals have the benefit of a ridiculous pitching mismatch in place to avoid shame. Since coming over in exchange for a boatload of prospects this offseason, Shields has been everything the Royals could have hoped for in his first year. With a sizable cut into his usual long-ball problems (finally, Kauffman Stadium does something right!) Shields is sporting a 2.72 ERA that would be a career-best if he kept it up all season.
For the month of June, Dylan Axelrod doesn’t have a quality start, has allowed an earned run (10) for every strikeout he’s recorded (10), and has one more walk (11) than his total in both categories.
The odds are against the Sox, one might say.
Kansas City Royals lineup
James Shields, SP
Note really must taken of the amount of lineup switching managers Robin Ventura and Ned Yost pulled off for this one. Ventura swapped out Jeff Keppinger as planned after a game where he reached base four times and pulled off one of his patented random flip-flops of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn in the batting order. Both are hitting are well, both of the starters from today and yesterday were right-handed. I’ve got nothing to explain this one.
The Royals on the other hand, are sitting their No. 3 hitter from the past two days, moving Mike Moustakas, who apparently is battling 39 year-old Miguel Tejada for playing time on a regular basis, to the No. 5 hole. Which is all to say nothing of Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon doing this dance of either leading off or being benched or slotted in the No. 9 hole due to their struggles. They’re 1-2 today at the top of the order.
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