Coming off an ugly defeat in the heat of a playoff race, perhaps the last pitcher the Kansas City Royals want to face next is the AL's ERA leader.
Looking to improve to 3-0 against the Royals in 2014, Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox try to send their AL Central rivals to a third straight series loss Wednesday night.After failing to hold a pair of one-run leads, Kansas City (82-68) lost 7-5 to Chicago on Tuesday in a game that lasted 4 hours, 16 minutes -- the longest nine-inning game in Royals history -- and featured 15 pitchers.The loss was the seventh in 11 games for the Royals, who still trail first-place Detroit by 1 1/2 games in the Central and hold a one-game lead over Seattle for the second wild-card spot."You make your own momentum every night," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Your momentum's as good as your starting pitcher."Though the Royals have scored 20 runs while splitting their last four contests, they don't expect an easy time against Sale (12-3, 1.99 ERA) after he allowed one run, struck out 14 and walked two over 15 innings in his first two starts against them this season.After yielding four hits in eight scoreless innings of a 5-1 victory over Kansas City on April 6, Sale has allowed one run and 10 hits over 15 1/3 innings to go 1-0 in his last two at Kauffman Stadium.He has allowed a run and seven hits over 14 innings while going 1-0 in his last two outings overall. The left-hander gave up two of those hits and struck out nine in eight innings of a 1-0 victory over Oakland on Thursday to mark the fourth time in nine starts that he's not yielded an earned run."I'm not a numbers guy, I don't care about any of that stuff," said Sale, who is the first White Sox pitcher to lead the AL in ERA since Joe Horlen in 1967.Nori Aoki is 0 for 3 against Sale, but recorded his second straight four-hit game Tuesday. The Kansas City leadoff hitter is batting .511 (23 for 45) in 11 games against the White Sox (69-82) this season.Alcides Escobar, who had two hits Tuesday, is hitting .381 lifetime versus Sale.Billy Butler is 1 for 27 in his last eight games and had hit .412 (14 for 34) with three homers versus Sale before going 0 for 5 against him this season.Kansas City's Yordano Ventura (12-10, 3.27) allowed four runs despite walking 11 over 18 1/3 innings during a three-start winning streak that ended Friday when he gave up four runs in seven innings of a 4-2 home defeat to Boston.The right-hander yielded four runs in six innings of a 7-6 home loss to the White Sox on May 20 that dropped him to 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA against them.Ventura has never faced Jose Abreu, who got his 103rd RBI on Tuesday. The Cuban rookie went 0 for 4 after batting .440 in his previous seven games.
The Chicago White Sox have a .212 batting average in at-bats to end in a fastball thrown at least 95 mph this season, which is fourth lowest in MLB. Yordano Ventura has thrown 1,663 fastballs at least that fast this season, which is the most among qualified pitchers in MLB.
Lorenzo Cain (KC): 2nd career HR against Chris Sale, the only pitcher he's homered against twice...
It's 2nd HR this month (in his 16th game)... He had 1 HR in June, July and August COMBINED (in 75 games)
Chris Sale (CHW): 5 IP is tied for his 2nd-shortest start of the season (his only one shorter was due to a rain delay)
Chris Sale allowed a HR to Lorenzo Cain in the 3rd inning Wednesday, the first HR he's ever allowed on an 0-2 pitch.
Entering Wednesday, Sale had gone to an 0-2 count to 634 batters in his career without allowing a HR.
Nori Aoki (KC): 9th multi-hit game vs White Sox this season. He now has a .531 BA vs White Sox this year.
From Elias: Norichika Aoki has set the Royals record for most hits in a 3-game series with 11 (and counting).
The previous mark of 10 was shared by Willie Wilson (1980 against Yankees) and George Brett (1982 against White Sox)