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Apr 4, 2024 7:40 am

White Sox look to rev up offense in series opener vs. Royals

Luis Robert Jr.

Close contests have been the theme for the Chicago White Sox this season, with all but one of their five games decided by a single run. That includes Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Atlanta, an outcome that snapped Chicago’s four-game losing streak to start the season.

Fresh off of being rained out on Wednesday, the White Sox will start a four-game series against the Royals looking for a win Thursday night when the teams meet in Kansas City, Mo.

Chicago has struggled to ignite its offense. The White Sox’s .181 batting average and 11 runs rank second-to-last in the majors.

Luis Robert Jr. leads the club with five hits and four RBIs, and Robert and Paul DeJong each have two of the team’s six home runs.

After Robert hit a pair of homers against the Detroit Tigers last Saturday, White Sox manager Pedro Grifol highlighted his patience at the plate and how he can do damage on pitches over the plate.

“He’ll take the walk,” Grifol said. “But if you come in the strike zone, he’s got capabilities of hurting you. I like those at-bats and the way they ended up in homers, but in his other at-bat he (had) a base hit to right field. That means he’s not trying to do too much. He’s staying within himself, just letting the game come to him.”

Right-hander Michael Soroka (0-0, 7.20 ERA) will make his first career start against the Royals on Thursday. Soroka surrendered four runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings against Detroit last Saturday.

“They took a lot of early swings, and then he settled down after that and he threw the ball pretty good,” Grifol said. “He mixed his pitches and gave us five.”

The Royals concluded a three-game trip with a 4-3 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday, a game delayed five hours due to inclement weather.

Right-hander Seth Lugo (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the mound for Kansas City on Thursday. Lugo allowed just two hits and a walk over six shutout innings in a no-decision against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. He has one career appearance against the White Sox, in relief, in 2019.

“He threw the ball really well,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said of Lugo’s outing last Saturday. “He had good movement, he was locating, deceptive, and he gave six shutout innings. You saw the weak contact, you saw the ground balls, you saw when he needed a strikeout he’d go to the breaking ball, get the swing and miss.”

Kansas City’s rebuilt pitching staff, consisting of 11 pitchers who were not on the Opening Day roster a year ago, has seen wildly different results between starters and the bullpen.

Through the first six games, Royals starters have a 1.45 ERA, allowing six earned runs in 37 1/3 innings. In contrast, the bullpen has a majors-worst 8.04 ERA with two blown saves and three losses.

In 15 2/3 innings, the bullpen has allowed 14 earned runs — all in the eighth and ninth innings. Opponents are hitting a major-league-best .354 against Royals relievers.

In his first three outings since joining the Royals on a one-year, $5 million contract, Will Smith has a blown save and two losses to go with a 20.25 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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