The Chicago White Sox have been the underdog in the overwhelming majority of their games this season.
However, there is an exception to every rule. For the White Sox, that exception is facing the Kansas City Royals, against whom they have played like heavy favorites.
Chicago (37-68) will try to keep the one-sided rivalry intact when they open a three-game series against the Royals on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field. The series will conclude a six-game homestand for the White Sox.
In 10 games against the Royals this year, the White Sox are 7-3 with a whopping run differential of 64-39. Chicago has won two of three home games and five of seven road games against their fellow American League Central club.
The most recent series involved two blowouts with the White Sox scoring nine runs in the opener and 10 runs in the finale. The White Sox also scored a season-high 14 runs against the Royals on opening day March 29.
Since then, the season has only soured more for Kansas City (32-73), which is on pace for a 113-loss campaign. That would mark the worst season in franchise history, topping the 106-loss effort of 2005.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore is not happy about the dreadful season.
"I'm embarrassed the way our major league team has performed, OK?" Moore said Monday during an interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, as reported by the Kansas City Star. "I didn't necessarily expect us to be in the playoffs this year, but I didn't expect us to be on pace to lose 100-plus games.
"That's embarrassing to me personally, it's embarrassing to our organization. (Team owner David Glass) doesn't expect that, either, so we've got to do a better job of that. ... (Former Detroit Tigers general manager) Bill Lajoie told me this a long time ago: Major league players aren't paid to play, they're paid to win. And so it's our responsibility to get players on this major league team that understand that, and they have to go out and compete."
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (6-9, 4.70 ERA) will make his 23rd start of the year. In 23 career games (21 starts) against the White Sox, he is 8-6 with a 4.28 ERA. His eight wins against Chicago are the most against any opponent.
White Sox right-hander James Shields (4-12, 4.53) also will make his 23rd start. He has faced the Royals (one of his former teams) 15 times in his career, going 9-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 99 1/3 innings.
Chicago's big wins over Kansas City have provided bright spots to the club during a trying season.
"It's not an easy process," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said to the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this month. "All of us share it through the daily grind, and we sure are elated every night that we have a victory and go through the suffering when (we) don't.
"And then even through a victory and or defeat, you're going through the process of trying to clean up things that occurred during the ballgame to try to make it as an efficient and good a team as possible."