CHICAGO -- White Sox left-hander Chris Sale will look to snap a three-game winless drought when he takes the mound Friday night to open a weekend series in Chicago against the Kansas City Royals.
Sale (9-2, 2.54 ERA) earned the victory in each of his first nine starts before enduring several turbulent outings. In his past three starts, the 27-year-old hurler is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA.
However, Sale's teammates have no doubt that he can regain his dominant form.
"It's going to be fun to watch him pitch," right-hander Miguel Gonzalez said. "He's been battling through a couple games, but you know what? We're happy to have him here."
A series-ending win against the Washington Nationals on Thursday helped to improve the mood in the White Sox clubhouse. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Chicago (30-30), which led the American League Central for 47 days before tumbling into fourth place during the recent skid.
On Thursday, the Royals learned right-hander Yordano Ventura received a nine-game suspension for hitting Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. The play incited a violent brawl, and both Ventura and Machado were ejected. The Royals will appeal the suspension, according to the Kansas City Star.
"My plan was to pitch inside, and one got away," Ventura told the newspaper through a translator.
Ten-year veteran Ian Kennedy (4-4, 3.44 ERA) will try to reverse the Royals' ugly slide. Kennedy has faced the White Sox only once in his career, limiting them to one run on four hits in six innings.
With more than 100 games remaining in the regular season, either team is panicking about its poor performance. The White Sox reiterated their belief in the team's chances to contend by signing veteran first baseman Justin Morneau to a one-year, $1 million contract on Thursday. Morneau will not be available until around the All-Star break, but his presence could provide a left-handed boost in the lineup.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the organization had spoken with Morneau since mid-March about joining the team.
"In Justin, we're getting a proven professional hitter, a guy who has the ability to get on base with a little bit of pop and hopefully will fit in nicely in the middle of that lineup," Hahn said. "In some ways, it's a trade-deadline acquisition that we're banking now as we continue the search for other acquisitions."
Morneau, 35, said he was eager to join the White Sox veteran-laden clubhouse. Two seasons ago, he hit a league-leading .319 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs for the Colorado Rockies.
"This was the opportunity that I liked the most, the best opportunity and the one that seemed to fit both sides well," Morneau said. "I think there's a little bit of a need for some more left-handed bats in this lineup. We obviously have a very good first baseman over there so that's something I'll be able to DH and try to help him out whenever I can. I think the situation just worked out well."