Series Preview: Kansas City Royals

After a great start, the Kansas City Royals began to flounder. Now, they are back in first place of the AL Central. This series is critical to the White Sox if they want to be part of the Central race.

Opponent: Kansas City Royals
Record: 57-46, .553, First Place (AL Central)
Place: Kauffman Stadium
Time & TV: Game 1: 7:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 2: 7:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 3: 7:05 p.m. (WCIU)
2002 Record vs Sox: 8-11
2003 Record vs Sox: 4-2

THE LATEST
The Kansas City Royals are 6-5 since the break, which isn't that bad, except for the fact that the White Sox have been 9-2 in that same time span, and are rapidly making up ground in the AL Central. The Royals are led in the hitting department by Carlos Beltran, who is hitting .297 with 14 homers and 59 RBIs. Raul Ibanez also leads the team with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. The pitching staff is led by former Houston ace Jose Lima, who somehow has rejuvenated his career as he is 7-0 with a 2.17 ERA. However, the Sox will miss him in this series. Mike MacDougal leads the Royals with 24 saves, but he has started to break down lately, and isn't as sure out on the mound.

WHO'S HOT (Last 7 days)
Aaron Guiel, RF: .325, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB
--Guiel has been making manager Tony Pena look like a genius as he has hit the ball well since getting called up in late May. He has only played in 44 games this season, but he has shown no signs of slowing down.

WHO'S NOT (Last 7 days)
Brent Mayne, C: . 000, 2 K
--Mayne hasn't collected a hit since May 19, but still is carrying a .252 average. He has little power but often makes contact.

PITCHING PROBABLES
Game #1:
Mark Buehrle (8-10, 4.21, 78 K) vs. Darrell May (5-4, 3.33, 69 K)
--Darrell May is one of the best kept pitching secrets in the AL in pitching. He ranks eighth in the league in ERA, batting average against and WHIP. He mixes speeds well and has won five decisions in a row. He has been going deep into many games. The key to beating May is to take advantage of him with runners on. He walks numerous batters each start, and if attacked early in the game, he can be beaten.

Game #2:
Jon Garland (7-7, 4.40, 69 K) vs. Runelvys Hernandez (5-3, 2.81, 40 K)
--Runelvys Hernandez not only has the craziest name in the majors, but has shown the most promise out of anyone so far this year. He was pitching better than anyone in the AL until he was hurt, bouncing his ERA from near 1.00 to up just below 3.00. Hernandez is making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list. He still walks a lot of batters and has not been going late into games since his injury.

Game #3:
Esteban Loaiza (13-5, 2.19, 115 K) vs. Kyle Snyder (1-5, 4.54, 37 K)
--Snyder has been a picture of inconsistency to this point in the season, often following up a disappointing start with a brilliant one, then another disappointing one. Snyder, like Hernandez, is coming off the disabled list and not going deep into games. His ERA has been ballooning, but he has been pitching well enough to keep his team in games.

KEY TO THE SERIES
Once again, keep the Sox steamroller running. If the Sox offense can keep hitting on all cylinders, the pitching will give the Sox the chance to win.

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