In a results-oriented game like baseball, moral victories don’t mean much. But improvement against the top team in your division definitely is reason for hope heading into the next season.
That’s the situation the Royals (60-75) are in as they conclude the season series against the Chicago White Sox (79-57) on Sunday with a matinee in Kansas City. The White Sox took nine of 10 games from the Royals in the abbreviated 2020 season, but with a victory Sunday, the Royals would win the 2021 season series.
To that aim, manager Mike Matheny will send Brady Singer (3-9, 4.87 ERA) to the mound to face Chicago’s Dylan Cease (11-6, 3.82).
The winner of Sunday’s game will take the three-game series and the season series after the White Sox defeated the Royals 10-7 Saturday night. Yasmani Grandal had three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run home run in the first for Chicago. Luis Robert tied a career high with four hits, including a home run.
Even Salvador Perez’s sixth multi-homer game of the season wasn’t enough for the Royals.
Matheny, who talks a lot about the process of getting better, doesn’t put a lot of stock in comparing one season to the next, because there’s often another comparison that goes the other way.
“We don’t put too much weight on (how we do against) one particular team,” he said before Saturday’s game. “We’re having the exact same conversation in the opposite direction with Cleveland. It goes back to that process. How do we play more consistently the kind of baseball we know we want to play? It doesn’t matter who it is against.
“Sometimes it’s harder to beat certain teams than others. We just had a real tough time last year doing anything right against the White Sox. We’ve had a few games this year when we’re playing better.”
White Sox manager Tony La Russa can look at the bigger picture as his team prepares for a likely American League Central Division championship and the corresponding postseason berth. His focus is on the health of his pitching staff.
“You worry about the arms,” he said. “We’ve really been careful. Knock on wood, we’re in the midst of guys getting a lot of extra rest. I don’t want to jinx anything, but arm-wise, we’re in good shape.”
Cease has been on a roll, going 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA in his six August starts. Sunday’s game will be his fifth start against the Royals this season. He’s 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA (three earned runs in 22 1/3 innings) against Kansas City.
In his career against the Royals, he’s 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA.
Singer has slumped in 2021, partly because of some misfortune. He has allowed 70 runs, 59 of them earned. He’s lost his past five decisions and hasn’t won since June 1 in Pittsburgh. Ironically, the four earned runs in that game are more than he allowed in all but two of his 12 starts since then.
He didn’t factor in the decision in his only start this season against White Sox. For his career, he’s 0-1 with a 5.29 ERA against them.
–Field Level Media