Alexei Ramirez has been on a tear lately, but the Chicago White Sox have little left to aim for other than to play spoiler.
Santana takes the mound for Kansas City against the visiting White Sox on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series.
The Royals (64-59) are all but out of the AL Central race after losing three of five to Detroit to fall 8 1/2 games behind the Tigers. Saturday and Sunday's losses were blown opportunities after Kansas City swept Friday's doubleheader.
"We had a chance to win the series," manager Ned Yost said after Sunday's 6-3 setback.
A wild-card spot is still attainable for the Royals, who haven't made the playoffs since 1985.
Santana (8-6, 3.19 ERA) has been one of the AL's best this year, posting a career-low ERA in his first season with Kansas City. He's been especially good since giving up season highs of eight runs and 10 hits over five-plus innings against the New York Yankees on July 11, going 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in six starts.
The right-hander was in line for another win Wednesday, allowing one run in six innings, but a seventh-inning error contributed to a 5-2 defeat to Miami. It was just the second time in nine games Kansas City lost one of Santana's starts.
The White Sox (49-74) have been essentially out of postseason contention for weeks with one of baseball's worst records, but have won three in a row and nine of 14 since dropping 10 consecutive games.
Alexei Ramirez was a triple shy of a cycle and drove in three runs in a 5-2 win at Minnesota on Sunday. He's batting .379 while collecting a hit in 14 of his last 15 games, and has driven in 11 runs in 11 contests since being slid down to the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
"I still basically do the same thing," said Ramirez, whose .289 average is his best since he hit .290 as a rookie in 2008. "If I have a runner in scoring position, I'm doing whatever I can to bring him home. For me, it's a special place to hit."
Ramirez should feel comfortable versus Santana, whom he's 8 for 24 against.
Kansas City could use some better production after plating 16 runs and going 8 for 61 (.131) with runners in scoring position in losing five of seven. Billy Butler and Alcides Escobar have combined to go 1 for 18 in those situations.
Danks (2-10, 4.54) is trying to end an eight-start winless streak in which he's 0-5 with a 4.70 ERA. The left-hander gave up six runs - four earned - and nine hits over 7 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Detroit on Wednesday.
Danks is 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in his last six starts against the Royals, but hasn't faced them since Sept. 24, 2011.
Santana, whose only appearance against the White Sox this season came in his 2013 debut, is 5-5 in 16 career games versus Chicago with a 4.06 ERA.
The Royals swept a three-game series at Chicago at the end of July, and have won seven of 12 meetings this year.
|Alejandro De Aza||13||.308||4||1||2||0||6||.308||.923||.615|
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 16, 2013||Ramon Troncoso||15-Day DL||Pericarditis|
|August 15, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Strained right quad|
|August 05, 2013||Dayan Viciedo||Day-to-Day||Jammed left thumb|
|July 30, 2013||Alex Rios||Day-to-Day||Left foot contusion|
|July 21, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Strained ligament, left wrist|
|July 03, 2013||Paul Konerko||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 13, 2013||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 11, 2013||Miguel Tejada||60-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 04, 2013||David Lough||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- John Danks wasn't about to blame anyone for his own misfortune. He went eight straight starts without a victory for the Chicago White Sox simply because he didn't perform.
He finally did Tuesday night in Kansas City.
Danks shut down the Royals' scuffling offense over eight innings, and the White Sox managed to squeak out just enough support for a 2-0 victory in the opener of their three-game series.
"You can look at each game and pick out an at-bat or a certain pitch where I didn't do myself any favors. Fortunately, I was able to stay away from that today," said Danks, whose last win came against the Orioles on July 2. "I felt like I was giving myself the best chance to win tonight."
Hard to give your team a better chance than by blanking your opponent.
Danks (3-10) ended his exasperating winless streak by scattering seven hits and a walk. That the veteran left-hander's finest start of the year came against the Royals wasn't much of a surprise, either: Danks improved to 5-0 against them in 13 career starts.
"There were a lot of guys swinging early, but he was throwing strikes," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "For him to go eight against a lineup like this that's been tough on us is pretty good."
White Sox closer Addison Reed worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his 32nd save. It wrapped up the fourth straight win for the last-place White Sox, and their first shutout victory since beating the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 on May 17.
"Hopefully this will get us on a little streak to finish the season on a high," Danks said.
Gordon Beckham homered off Santana (8-7) in the first inning for the only earned run. The other run for the White Sox came in the second, when Paul Konerko trotted home from third on a passed ball that curiously disappeared in the padding behind home plate.
Except for those two blemishes, Santana matched zeros with Danks through six innings. He walked two and struck out five, including Josh Phegley to leave the bases loaded in the fourth.
It was the fourth straight win for the White Sox and the third consecutive loss for the Royals, who are slip-sliding out of wild-card contention after a spirited run. They've lost six of their last eight games, their lone wins coming in a sweep of a double-header in Detroit.
Things are going so badly that balls are disappearing on them at the worst of times.
Konerko led off the second inning with a double, and Avisail Garcia singled to put runners on the corners for the White Sox. Santana was facing Conor Gillaspie when he threw a pitch that hit the tip of Salvador Perez 's glove and bounced toward the backstop behind home plate.
The ball disappeared in the green padding above one of the advertising signs, and Perez threw up his hands as if to say, "What now?" Meanwhile, Konerko had started to trot home with a confused look on his face, and for a moment nobody in the ballpark seemed to know what was going on.
"I never seen anything like that," Santana said. "I was looking at Salvy and he was looking at me. I was like, `Where's the ball?' He's like, `I don't know!' It was hard."
Garcia was awarded second base, but Santana retired the next three batters to limit the damage.
"I mean, that stuff happens," Ventura said. "It's one of those you lose in the tarp or the way they have advertising now, it's just one of those that kind of goes your way."
Kansas City's bullpen pitched three shutout innings once Santana left the game, but its woeful offense couldn't break through against Danks, who came into the game with a 4.54 ERA. He never allowed a runner to reach third base, and even picked off a runner at first in the eighth.
"We weren't doing anything offensively, and then he got ahead of us," the Royals' Alex Gordon said. "A lot of guys were taking, trying to get something going. But he was pounding the zone, throwing a lot of strikes. Give credit to him, but we just didn't do a very good job offensively."
NOTES: Royals 3B Mike Moustakas (left calf) expects to play Wednesday, manager Ned Yost said. ... White Sox 3B Jeff Keppinger (sore back) was a late scratch from the starting lineup. Gillaspie took his spot after missing two games with a bruised left hand. ... Royals OF Lorenzo Cain (oblique) is progressing with workouts but has not started baseball activities. ... White Sox RHP Andre Rienzo will start Wednesday night's game against Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie .