The Kansas City Royals hope a visit from the worst team in the American League will help them close the gap in the wild-card race. The Royals are 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second wild card as they begin a three-game home series against the last-place Chicago White Sox on Monday.
Kansas City has won its last two contests to earn a split of its four-game weekend set against the Twins and remain within reach of the final playoff spot. The Royals need to make a move, though, as they begin an 11-game road trip Thursday with the opener of a four-game series at red-hot Cleveland. The White Sox have won two straight following a five-game skid, and they did so in dominant fashion, beating San Francisco 13-1 on Saturday and 8-1 the following day. The Royals lead the season series 7-6 and have won five of the last six meetings.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: White Sox RH Reynaldo Lopez (0-3, 4.84 ERA) vs. Royals RH Jason Hammel (8-10, 4.73)
Lopez is winless in four major-league turns this season but has posted quality starts in three of those outings. The 23-year-old allowed one run and six hits over six innings last time out against Cleveland, but the White Sox scored only one run behind him for the second straight start. Lopez faced the Royals in his White Sox debut on Aug. 11 and gave up two runs and four hits over six frames in a no-decision.
Hammel has won two straight starts and three of his last four. The 35-year-old continues to allow home runs at an alarming rate, surrendering nine in his last five starts, but he limited the damage to two runs over six innings to win at Detroit on Wednesday. Hammel is 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 career games (three starts) against the White Sox and won the only meeting last year, which marked the first time he faced Chicago since 2013.
1. The Royals have hit 173 home runs, surpassing the previous club mark of 168 set in 1987.
2. The White Sox have homered in seven consecutive games, hitting 18 blasts over that stretch.
3. Kansas City 2B Whit Merrifield is 13-for-32 with seven RBIs during his eight-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Royals 7, White Sox 5