James Shields helped the Kansas City Royals reach the World Series in 2014, but now he hopes to help prevent them from getting back to the playoffs. Shields takes the mound for the Chicago White Sox on Saturday as they aim for a second straight win over the slumping Royals.
The Royals were within 1 1/2 games of the American League Central lead as recently as July 26, but they’ve slipped five games back of Cleveland after dropping five straight and 10 of their last 12. Kansas City’s normally reliable bullpen has faltered of late and has regularly been hit hard during the five-game skid. The last-place White Sox have won four straight after a 6-3 win in Friday’s series opener. Chicago is doing it with an influx of young talent, as outfielder Nicky Delmonico has reached base in his first 10 major-league games and fellow rookie Yoan Moncada is batting .344 over his last eight games.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, CSN Chicago
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Ian Kennedy (4-8, 4.83 ERA) vs. White Sox RH James Shields (2-4, 6.03)
After a string of five quality starts in six outings, Kennedy has struggled his last two times out. The 32-year-old was tagged for seven runs (six earned) in six innings in a loss to St. Louis on Monday after giving up four runs in four-plus innings of a loss at Baltimore six days earlier. Kennedy is 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA in seven starts against the White Sox, and he has surrendered 11 runs (nine earned) in 8 1/3 innings over two meetings this season.
Shields is winless in six starts since June 29, posting an 8.13 ERA over that stretch. The 35-year-old pitched better last time out, allowing four runs (three earned) over six innings in a 4-1 loss at Boston. Shields is 7-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 12 starts against the Royals, and he was smacked around for six runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in a meeting earlier this season.
1. Royals OF Melky Cabrera is 11-for-30 during a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .319 in 12 games since being acquired from the White Sox.
2. Moncada is 10-for-25 during a seven-game hitting streak and has raised his average from .100 to .215 over that stretch.
3. Chicago RF Avisail Garcia is expected back in the starting lineup after getting a day off Friday.
PREDICTION: Royals 7, White Sox 5