Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011
Posted: 11:19 a.m.
The Kansas City Royals won't be appearing in the postseason for a 26th consecutive year, but they're giving their fan base plenty to look forward to heading into next season.
The Royals try for a 10th win in 12 games while the Chicago White Sox hope to avoid a sixth straight home defeat Saturday night.
While Kansas City, which hasn't made a playoff appearance since winning the 1985 World Series, is assured of an eighth consecutive losing season, it's surprisingly played like one of baseball's best teams of late.
The Royals (69-88) have outscored opponents 70-36 en route to taking nine of 11 - a stretch during which they are batting .323 with runners in scoring position.
"A lot of teams tend to put it in cruise control a little bit and finish out the season, and this team hasn't done that, not for one second," manager Ned Yost said. "They haven't ... they come every day ready to play.
"(They) are totally focused on finishing this year strong so they can take it into next year, and that's important. That's an important mindset to have."
Kansas City continued its late-season surge Friday with an 11-1 rout at U.S. Cellular Field. Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar and Jeff Francoeur all went deep while Bruce Chen threw eight innings of one-run ball.
Hosmer is batting .500 (19 for 38) over an eight-game hitting streak. Fellow rookie Mike Moustakas, who collected a season-high four hits Friday, is batting .457 with three homers during an 11-game run of his own.
"It's been a blast these past couple weeks," Moustakas said. "We've been playing great baseball, everyone's hitting, so yeah, I guess you could say we're hitting our stride."
The Royals, who have taken four of five from Chicago during their recent hot streak, haven't fared well against John Danks (7-12, 4.36 ERA), who will pitch Saturday after helping the White Sox to their only victory during that stretch.
Danks allowed four runs and 10 hits in six innings of Sunday's 10-5 win, improving to 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA over his last eight outings against the Royals.
Danks, however, owns a 9.14 ERA over his last four starts overall, yielding 36 hits and seven walks in 21 2-3 innings.
Facing Melky Cabrera and Francoeur, though, could help the left-hander regroup. Cabrera is 4 for 21 (.190) lifetime against Danks while Francoeur is 1 for 9. Alex Gordon, who is 3 for 23 (.130) versus Danks, is expected to miss a second straight game with flu-like symptoms.
Taking the mound for Kansas City is rookie Everett Teaford (2-0, 2.54), who has impressed since transitioning to the starting rotation less than two weeks ago.
After throwing five scoreless innings during a 2-1 win at Seattle on Sept. 11, the left-hander limited the White Sox (76-81) to one run and four hits in six innings of last Saturday's 10-3 victory.
"I was very impressed with the way Teaford pitched, his ability to pitch his way out of jams," Yost said.
Teaford faces a White Sox team which has dropped 10 of 13, including five in a row at home while batting .200.
"Obviously it's been a very tough season for everyone," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
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