The Kansas City Royals have little left to play for after falling short of the playoffs for a 28th straight year, but they'll surely want to avoid being shut out a third straight time for the first time in nine seasons.
The Chicago White Sox are already assured of their first last-place finish in 24 years.
Kansas City visits Chicago on Thursday night for the opener of a four-game series to end the season.
The Royals' 6-0 loss Wednesday, combined with victories from all three teams ahead of them in the AL wild-card standings, officially eliminated them from playoff contention. They were a night removed from a 4-0 loss, marking the first time they've been blanked in back-to-back games since May 22-23, 2009, at St. Louis.
Kansas City (83-75), which last made the playoffs in 1985, hasn't been shut out in three straight since July 5-7, 2004, at Minnesota.
"Back-to-back shutouts, you're not going to win any games scoring zero runs," said Alex Gordon , who was 2 for 4. "It's kind of a tough way to go out."
Chicago (62-96), which has lost 20 of 26, is headed for a last-place divisional finish for the first time since 1989. The White Sox, who are trying to avoid falling 35 games under .500 for the first time since ending the 1970 season 56-106, must win once in this series to avoid finishing with 100 losses, which would be the fourth-most in franchise history.
The Royals, though, are the only divisional foe Chicago owns a winning record against this year at 8-7.
The White Sox were without Paul Konerko in a 7-2 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday after he fouled a pitch off his right knee a day earlier. Konerko said he expects to play against the Royals.
"Every year there's players who have good years and players who have bad years," Konerko said. "There's no rhyme or reason to some of it. There are always little moments that shape a season. It just seemed like everything that could go wrong went wrong, between the lines, outside the lines."
Chicago was also without Gordon Beckham due to a leg injury. Beckham had recorded four doubles while hitting safely in each of his last seven games.
The White Sox have knocked around scheduled starter Jeremy Guthrie (14-12, 4.09 ERA) the last two times they've faced him, tagging him for 11 runs over 8 1-3 innings. He had been 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in the previous six matchups, including one shutout.
Guthrie has dropped back-to-back starts while surrendering 20 hits and six runs over 14 innings.
Adam Dunn , given the day off Wednesday, will try to turn things around as he's 7 for 71 (.099) over his last 22 games with 36 strikeouts. He's 4 for 26 off Guthrie with 12 strikeouts.
Chicago will give the ball to rookie right-hander Andre Rienzo (2-2, 5.04), who has surrendered five earned runs in three of his last four outings, including an 8-1 loss to Cleveland on Sept. 14, when he gave up seven hits and four walks over four-plus innings.
Rienzo recorded a 3.56 ERA through his first five starts - the last of which was a 5-2 victory at Kansas City on Aug. 21, when he surrendered two runs and five hits in six innings.
|Alejandro De Aza||13||.385||5||0||1||0||2||.385||.847||.462|
|Kansas City Royals|
|September 17, 2013||Carlos Pena||60-Day DL||Appendectomy|
|September 16, 2013||Danny Duffy||Day-to-Day||Flexor tendon inflammation|
|September 08, 2013||Danny Duffy||15-Day DL||Strained left forearm|
|September 05, 2013||Salvador Perez||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
|September 03, 2013||Noel Arguelles||60-Day DL||Left shoulder|
|August 13, 2013||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|Chicago White Sox|
|September 24, 2013||Jeff Keppinger||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder surgery|
|September 20, 2013||Andre Rienzo||Day-to-Day||Blister right hand|
|September 08, 2013||Avisail Garcia||Day-to-Day||Pulled teeth|
|September 02, 2013||Tyler Flowers||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|September 02, 2013||Tyler Flowers||60-Day DL||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|August 20, 2013||Jeff Keppinger||Day-to-Day||Stiff lower back|
CHICAGO (AP) -- Despite being eliminated from the playoffs, the Kansas City Royals are not expecting to be playing in any meaningless games until spring training begins in February.
Jeremy Guthrie pitched seven strong innings, and David Lough hit a two-run homer to lead the Royals to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.
One day after being eliminated from the postseason, the Royals earned their 84th win, their most since 1993.
The Royals' 6-0 loss to Seattle on Wednesday, combined with victories from all three teams ahead of them in the AL wild-card standings, officially eliminated them from playoff contention.
Guthrie (15-12) became the Royals' third 15-game winner since 1997. He gave up two runs and four hits, striking out four and walking one.
Royals closer Greg Holland pitched a scoreless ninth for his 46th save in 49 chances as the Royals ended a two-game losing streak. Holland set a franchise record for saves, surpassing Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993).
"Our guys know that Guthrie was going for his 15th win, they know Jamey Carroll is sitting on 999 hits, they know (James) Shields is going for his 100th win tomorrow, they knew this would be a new career high for Jeremy Guthrie with 15 wins. They knew Holland's next save would be the franchise record. They're all pushing, they all want to finish strong," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn hit solo homers for the White Sox, who have lost 21 of their 27. The White Sox are 35 games under .500 (62-97) for the first time since ending the 1970 season 56-106 and must win once in this series to avoid finishing with 100 losses, which would be the fourth-most in franchise history.
"You don't want to lose 100. You don't want to put that on a team next year. Whoever's here is going to have to answer questions about this season and just have it in the back of their minds," Konerko said. "If you can avoid it, you can avoid it. Whether we lose 98, now (actually 97), I can promise you if we won the next three, we'd know what it feels like to lose 100."
Guthrie already surpassed his career best win total when he won his 12th on Aug. 5 against the Twins.
"For me, it's a reflection on the team. The bullpen pitched tremendous all season long, especially games I threw in and the offense picked us up great along with the defense," Guthrie said. "I think wins for the most part can really be attributed to the guys around you, it's a team effort. I am really pleased to help the team win games and get credited for 15 times."
White Sox starter Andre Rienzo (2-3) pitched six-plus innings and allowed three runs, two earned, and four hits.
Holland, who struck out two in the ninth, isn't worried about accolades.
"I think maybe it will set in a little later. Right now, I am happy we won. Anytime you are mentioned with guys that you know were great it is pretty special," Holland said. "When you're out there on the mound you're just thinking of saving the game for the guys because they played their butts off."
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning, Lough hit a two-run homer, snapping a streak of 21 scoreless innings for the Royals. The last time the Royals scored was in the 12th inning of a 6-5 victory at Seattle on Monday.
Dunn tied the game in the sixth with a long home run to right. It was his 33rd of the season and it was measured at 442 feet.
In the seventh inning, Justin Maxwell led off with a single and advanced to second on Lough's bunt, then he came around to score after catcher Bryan Anderson fielded George Kottaras ' sacrifice bunt and threw it down the right-field line to give the Royals a 3-2 lead.
" Jeremy Guthrie getting his 15th win of the year. The way he threw the ball was tremendous, but the two bunts changed the game," Yost said.
Konerko, who missed Wednesday's game at Cleveland after fouling a pitch off his knee on Tuesday, homered in the second inning. It was his 12th of the season. Konerko is possibly playing his last series with the White Sox. He is a free agent after the season and has been a member of the club for the last 15 seasons.
This is his lowest home run total with the White Sox.
"This year I've hit a lot of balls hard that I put on a line or on the ground. Even balls that got down I hit. These aren't balls I hit any less hard than I did tonight, it's just it's path. It's the technique of it all. That's where it is for me. That one tonight, I attacked that one the right way and to get it in that air and get it going. I just haven't done that a lot this year," Konerko said.
NOTES: Shields will attempt to get his 100th career win on Friday night. ... Chris Sale , who leads the AL in complete games, will start for Chicago. ... Kansas City pitching set a franchise record with its 1,178th strikeout.