White Sox don't care to spoil, just want to improve

White Sox don't care to spoil, just want to improve
August 20, 2013, 10:00 pm
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White Sox vs. Royals, 7 p.m.
on Comcast SportsNet

On the hill: Andre Rienzo (0-0, 3.70 ERA); Jeremy Guthrie (12-9, 4.15 ERA)

Rienzo's MLB career on the road: 0-0, 2.84 ERA, 11 K's, 6 Walks, 19 IP

Guthrie vs. White Sox: 2-1, 3.63 ERA, 13 K's, 5 Walks, 17.1 IP

Royals at at a glance: 64-60 (3rd in American League Central, 8.5 games behind Detroit) 

Will Royals make the postseason? The Royals' recent decline has dropped them even further back in the playoff race, and unless the team's offense can get back on track, they likely won't see any postseason play.

Royals pitching leaders: Wins - Jeremy Guthrie (12); ERA - Ervin Santana (3.13); Strikeouts - James Shields (137); Saves - Greg Holland (34)

Royals batting leaders: Average - Eric Hosmer (.296); Home runs - Hosmer (14); RBIs - Alex Gordon (63); On-base percentage - Billy Butler (.381)

Click here for full game preview

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Those players leftover from last season’s September collapse remember the biting losses to the Kansas City Royals. They remember a handful of close defeats down the stretch, how difficult they were to handle.

While the White Sox would love to exact revenge and ruin the Royals’ playoff chances, they say it’s not their motivation.

They’re more concerned with getting their own issues cleaned up than creating problems for Kansas City, which started Tuesday 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card race.

If their improved play hurts the Royals, as it did Tuesday when the White Sox opened a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium with 2-0 win victory, then that's what happens.

[More: Danks dominates as White Sox top Royals]

After all, Kansas City won 12 of 18 meetings between the teams last season. But the White Sox have other objectives first and foremost, ones they have achieved of late with wins in 10 of 15 games.

“They seemed to have our number last year and it wasn’t like they killed us,” said second baseman Gordon Beckham, who hit his fourth homer Tuesday. “We were always in the game, it seemed like, and then they’d just win it at the end. It was definitely tough. Our focus right now -- we’re not going to call ourselves spoilers. We just want to play better baseball and I think we’re doing that.”

The White Sox were bound to play better, Beckham said. Everything that could go wrong over the first four months of 2013 did.

Injuries were costly.

Mistakes in every aspect of the game hurt them even more.

The cloud of negativity hung over the White Sox and they couldn’t escape.

Now, with the trade deadline passed and new faces on the roster, the team has taken advantage of the new energy.

Even when the White Sox have made errors, like the three they committed in Sunday’s win, they won’t let it get them down.

[More: Santiago continues to prove he belongs in White Sox rotation]

“When you win games it changes the mood and the feeling when you go into a game,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys are looking more for good things to happen than bad things to happen.”

For Chris Sale, the turnaround is a breath of fresh air.

In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline and even in the days after, the White Sox were dreadful.

They constantly waited for the other shoe to drop. Off the field, it was waiting on teammates to hear they had been traded. On it, it seemed as if any error would unravel them.

Even though avenging any of the five losses by two runs or less against the Royals from last season would be nice, the White Sox just want to continue to rediscover the win column.

“I wouldn’t say we’re trying to play spoiler we’re just trying to play our game,” Sale said. “If that means we’re spoiling than so be it. But we’d rather win every game we can than have someone else be in a better position for themselves.”

[More: Gillaspie waiting for his luck to turn]

Beckham can’t see a significant difference between now and three weeks ago.

He did note there is less pressure and improved energy. But part of the change was long overdue.

Now the White Sox just need to ride it out to have something to carry over into next season.

“We were bound to play better baseball,” Beckham said. “We’re finding a way to win games despite shaky defense every once in a while. We’re hitting better. You look up and down the lineup, a lot of guys with the exception of maybe two or three still want to prove themselves. There’s still a push to go out and not be selfish, play the game, do it well, to show what you can do. … That’s the goal is have a good two months and build off that.”