MLB

Royals-White Sox Preview

Although Chris Sale didn't get into the All-Star Game, the rest has given the left-hander a chance to extend another double-digit strikeout stretch in Sunday's series finale.

That's won't come easy in a matchup against the least strikeout-prone team in the majors.

Sale looks to match a season high with his third straight victory Sunday when the Chicago White Sox seek a split of their four-game home series against the AL-best Kansas City Royals.

After his MLB record-tying stretch with at least 10-plus strikeouts ended at eight games, Sale started anew July 11 when he gave up one run and fanned 10 over seven innings in a 5-1 win over the crosstown rival Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The 26-year-old Sale (8-4, 2.72 ERA) leads the AL with 11.71 strikeouts per nine innings and ranks among the major league leaders with 157 strikeouts and a 6.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Now the four-time All-Star looks to improve on his 5-2 record and 1.59 ERA over his last nine starts. He's also 7-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 12 career starts with six or more days' rest.

"I'm just trying to keep it going," Sale told MLB's official website. "I don't know what it is or how it is ... just go out there and try to do your job as a pitcher."

Sale is 6-6 with a 2.61 ERA in 14 career starts against the defending AL champions. The AL Cy Young Award candidate allowed two runs over seven innings but struck out a season-low two in a 3-2, 13-inning home loss April 23.

Kansas City (54-35) hitters haven't struck out 10 or more times in the last 21 games - it's happened only eight times this year - and have a major league-low 520.

Kendrys Morales is 3 for 6 with a home run and a double off Sale, while Alcides Escobar has gone 18 for 48 (.375) and Lorenzo Cain is 14 for 40 (.350) with two homers.

Cain is also batting .490 with three homers over his last 13 games after his 13th-inning solo shot was the difference in Saturday's 7-6 win.

''I ended up doing it and helping everybody get out of here and move on to tomorrow. It was well needed, well needed,'' Cain said.

Danny Duffy allowed four hits over six innings in a 3-0 home win over Toronto on July 10 that ended a four-game losing streak. He had posted a 6.91 ERA over his previous six starts - a stretch that included more than a month's stay on the disabled list.

The left-hander has struggled with his command, issuing six walks with one strikeout in his last two outings. However, only the Royals (197) have drawn fewer free passes than the White Sox (199).

Duffy (3-4, 4.65) has not picked up a decision in two meetings this season. He gave up five runs over five innings in a 7-5 home win April 8 before yielding no earned runs over 5 1-3 in a 3-2 road loss April 24.

Jose Abreu has gone 5 for 10 with a home run versus Duffy, though Tyler Flowers' only hit in 10 at-bats off him was a three-run homer. The White Sox (42-47) had batted .202 while totaling five runs in their previous three games before finishing with 14 hits Saturday.

"Sale is pitching tomorrow, right? So, I think we'll be alright,'' losing pitcher Dan Jennings said.

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