Game time: 1:10 p.m. ET; Thursday, July 29, 2021
Venue: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Where to watch: NBCSCH, Bally Sports Kansas City
Chicago White Sox: 60-41 (First place, American League Central)
Kansas City Royals: 43-56 (Fourth place, American League Central)
Opening odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: White Sox -170, Royals +150; Over 9.5 -120, Under 9.5 +100
Chicago: Yasmani Grandal (knee), Evan Marshall (elbow)
Kansas City: Danny Duffy (hip), Adalberto Mondesi (oblique)
Home runs and RBI: Abreu (18, 75)
Batting average: Anderson (.303)
Stolen bases: Anderson (16)
Wins: Lynn (10)
Saves: Hendriks (25)
ERA: Lynn (1.91)
Home runs and RBI: Perez (23, 62)
Batting average: Lopez (.280)
Stolen bases: Merrifield (25)
Wins: Minor (8)
Saves: Holland (7)
ERA: Duffy (2.51)
Chicago: Tony La Russa (1st season)
Kansas City: Mike Matheny (2nd season)
The Chicago White Sox are very good. Stop me if you've heard that before.
After 11 abysmal seasons of playoff-less baseball and only two playoff appearances since winning the World Series 16 years ago, the White Sox find themselves with as good a chance as anyone to come out of the American League and play for the Commissioner's Trophy.
Ironically enough, you'd think with the White Sox that it would come by way of home runs. Jose Abreu leads Chicago with 18 homers. Much like their run 16 years ago, pitching is getting it done. Lance Lynn has turned into a surprising ace with Chicago, going 10-3 with a 1.91 ERA in 103.2 innings of work. Carlos Rodon, now in his seventh year with the organization, became an All-Star for the first time and is on pace for a career year (8-4, 2.24 ERA). They've also gotten a serviceable stretch from veteran Dallas Keuchel. Chicago has amassed some quality starting pitchers.
Good pitching. Driving in runs via contact. Can still hit for power. Sounds like when the Royals won the World Series in 2015.
It hasn't been a grand time since the Royals celebrated at Citi Field. The Royals have not made the playoffs since and are well on their way to missing it for the sixth straight season.
But there's still hope for fun baseball from the likes of Salvador Perez (23 homers, .276 batting average) and Andrew Benintendi (.269 average), who went 2-for-4 in Tuesday's game.
White Sox - Royals Preview
You look for teams in the American League that can separate themselves from the pack. Right now, it's a three-team race between the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and the current leaders of the American League Central.
Fortunately for the first-place White Sox, despite losing four of their last six games entering Wednesday, their nine-game lead in the AL Central over the Cleveland Indians has allowed them to settle in and figure out what's wrong before they make a pennant push.
The White Sox hope to keep that push going Thursday when they face the Kansas City Royals in the final game of a four-game set at Kauffman Stadium. The two will meet again for a three-game set at Guaranteed Rate Field next week.
The series began Monday with a 4-3 win for Kansas City. The White Sox rebounded Tuesday night with a 5-3 win. Dylan Cease had six strikeouts and allowed only two hits in the contest.
The White Sox are a team that hits for contact, which seems like the perfect Tony La Russa squad. Tim Anderson is batting a team-best .303 with 36 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Yoan Moncada's 45 RBI are second-most on Chicago behind Abreu ... who has 75.
That is to say if this recent stretch of 7-3 since the All-Star break subsides for Kansas City. The Royals would need to go on a crazy stretch to make the playoffs (they're still looking up at the Detroit Tigers, for what it's worth),
- The White Sox have struggled to find consistency after a win. Yes, even at nearly 20 games over .500, Chicago is 32-25 this season (-3.5 units) after a win.
- But, as a favorite of -150 or more (to which the White Sox are laying -180), Chicago is 24-14 and 15-5 when they're a road favorite of -125 or higher.
- Chicago has dominated as favorites, going 27-12 (+13.8 units) when favored between -125 and -175.
- Meanwhile, following a loss, the Royals are 6-15 (-9 units). Winners have been hard to come by, especially at 19-36 after a loss.
The right course of action is to take the overwhelming favorite and that's understandable. The matchup dictates the White Sox should win this game due to its high-powered offense. But oddly enough, the Royals' recent play makes this tempting of taking the home dog. A caveat, too: The over should be an enticing play. Royals 8, White Sox 6.
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