The Royals are sending Jeremy Guthrie to the mound in the finale of a three-game set, where he will meet White Sox rookie left-hander Hector Santiago. Guthrie has been spectacular of late, going 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his last six starts -- a string that began with an Aug. 8 win at Chicago.
For the White Sox, holding on to a slim American League Central lead over Detroit means keeping the Royals in check for another day. The Royals carried a six-game winning streak against them into Saturday's game and, despite the White Sox winning that one, still lead the season series, 9-5.
"They are a good team," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of the Royals. "It's not like you are ashamed of losing to them, because they are a good Major League team. We just have to find a way to knock guys in when we have the opportunities."
Having done that enough on Saturday to hold off the Royals, the White Sox will have Guthrie to deal with on Sunday. Acquired on July 20 from Colorado, Guthrie began his hot streak with eight shutout innings against the White Sox, allowing just five hits while striking out six.
Guthrie hasn't slowed down since, and his last victory came against two-time defending AL champion Rangers on Tuesday. He allowed two earned runs on five hits, while striking out five and walking two in that one.
"His execution, his preparation and his ability to compete -- they're all positives and they're all great examples, everything that he does," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Guthrie after his last start.
Santiago, filling in for Gavin Floyd in the White Sox rotation, had a strong starting debut on Monday against the Twins, allowing just one run over five-plus innings while striking out six.
Royals: Seeking plate discipline
The Royals have been last in the Majors in walks, and after Saturday's one free pass have 346 on the season. Taking walks is one indication of patience at the plate, and Yost would like to see more of that -- even if it doesn't create more walks.
"I do [want to see more patience] because it gets you in a better hitting position, if you will," Yost said. "If you're swinging at everything he throws, odds are the pitcher's going to win. If you're more patient, more disciplined, sitting on your pitch, more times than not you're going to win -- because you're either going to take a walk or you're going to get a pitch to drive, until you get to two strikes."
Catcher Salvador Perez ran his hitting streak to 13 games with a single on Saturday, extending his own career best and the Royals' longest streak of the season.
White Sox: Expecting Youk, not Dunn
The White Sox anticipate getting Kevin Youkilis back in the lineup on Sunday or Monday after a brief paternity leave. Youkilis' wife, Julie, gave birth to a son on Friday.
Adam Dunn's return is less certain. Battling pain in his right oblique dating back to Sept. 1-2 during the series in Detroit, Dunn apparently still needs time to return. Ventura says he won't force the issue with the upcoming series against the Tigers.
"Yeah, I think it's just whenever he's ready to go, he's ready to go. Just depends on how he does," Ventura said. "That's the way we've talked about it."
The White Sox have lost 19 of the last 29 games in the series with the Royals, including a 7-11 mark in 2011. With four games remaining, including a series in Kansas City from Sept. 18-20, the White Sox would have to win all four to avoid consecutive losing seasons against Kansas City for the first time since 1993-94.
After Sunday's finale, the Royals head to Minnesota for three games starting on Tuesday before heading home for a nine-game homestand. The White Sox will be hosting the Tigers for a four-game set between the two AL Central contenders.