Thu, 23 Sep 2021

Royals go for series win over first-place White Sox

Field Level Media
29 Jul 2021, 17:05 GMT+10

As division rivals, the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals play each other 19 times.

So as they get set to play the 13th of this season's games in a Thursday matinee, the fourth game of this series, it might be tempting to assume that familiarity breeds some level of contempt between them. That's simply not the case.

The White Sox will send Carlos Rodon (8-4, 2.44 ERA) to the mound to face Carlos Hernandez (1-1, 6.04 ERA).

The Royals will be going for the series victory after a 10-inning walk-off win Wednesday. Michael A. Taylor's two-out single drove home Hunter Dozier from second for his fourth career walk-off RBI.

Rodon started the season hot, winning his first five starts with an ERA of 0.58. Among those wins was a no-hitter in his second start. Only a hit-batter kept him from a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians.

In his last 12 starts, he has a still-impressive 2.97 ERA. Against the Royals this year, he's 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in two starts. In his career, he's 3-4 with a 3.55 ERA in nine starts.

White Sox manager Tony La Russa is not looking past the Royals.

"The first thing you look at is how ready they are to compete," he said. "They haven't had a flat day yet against us, and they've had a couple of exciting wins. I know they're going in the right direction."

Hernandez's first 12 appearances this season were out of the bullpen. His last two have been starts, but he's still building up his innings. He has faced the White Sox once this season, giving up two earned runs in one-third of an inning in early April.

Hernandez also faced the White Sox once in his debut season of 2020, allowing one earned run in 2 2/3 innings. He certainly hopes to gain experience against the A.L. Central leader.

But if he does, it won't be at the expense of a hated rival, at least for his manager.

"I'm not going to tell you that we dislike them more than anyone else," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "We want to beat these guys. We want to beat the next guys. We're not trying to boost our Christmas card list; we're trying to beat somebody.

"We know there is somebody at the top of our division. I want our guys to be respected. More than anything else, I want us to win."

Part of the reason for Matheny's pleasant feelings toward the White Sox is his history with La Russa, for whom he played five of his 13 years in the majors.

Matheny was a teammate of Chicago third-base coach Joe McEwing for three of those seasons in St. Louis. And Chicago's analytics coach, Shelley Duncan, is the son of former La Russa sidekick Dave Duncan, whom Matheny credits for saving his career.

La Russa, who is in his first year back at the helm after 10 years away from the dugout, also speaks fondly of the man who replaced him as manager after he left the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.

"It's proven that if you want to predict future managers, the No. 1 guy is the catcher," La Russa said. "Having the five years with Mike, (I know) he's an outstanding competitor and teammate. I can be objective, because I have to be. I've seen that every day we've had to compete against his team."

On the field, the two sides want to win in the worst way. Off the field, however, the relationships last.

"You don't necessarily take them off your Christmas card list after you stop wearing the same color," Matheny said.

--Field Level Media

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