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Five-win White Sox, Royals open five-game set

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chicago White Sox won their first two games of the season. On the road. At Kansas City.

Since then they've won three games, losing 16 of 19. The White Sox have lost nine of their past 10 games after falling 4-3 to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.

The Kansas City Royals have been doing their awful best to keep up -- or should that be down -- with the White Sox. After falling 6-2 on Wednesday night to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Royals are a major league-worst 1-9 at home. That is their worst 10-game stretch at Kauffman Stadium since beginning the 2012 season by losing their first 10 home games.

Kansas City has endured a nine-game losing streak, which it snapped Friday in Detroit.

The White Sox (5-16) and the Royals (5-17) will open a five-game series Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Putting their win totals together, they still have eight fewer victories than the Boston Red Sox.

The series could have serious ramifications in determing which team will have the highest pick in the 2019 draft. The series is elongated with a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, making up for an April 1 snow and cold postponement.

Poor starting pitching had been a major reason for the White Sox's poor start. The starters are 2-12 with a 6.11 ERA.

Right-hander Lucas Giolito (0-3, 9.00 ERA) will start the opener for Chicago. He is coming off a Saturday loss to the Houston Astros in which he allowed nine runs on five hits and seven walks over two innings.

Giolito has a 10.93 ERA with a 2.07 WHIP with 15 walks in 14 innings during his three-game losing streak. Opponents are 14-for-54 in the three defeats. Giolito has had success against Kansas City, though. He is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three career starts against the Royals.

Giolito faced the Royals this season on March 31, giving up three runs on four hits and four walks in six innings. He did not get a decision in Chicago's 4-3 victory.

Kansas City veterans Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon are each 1-for-8 and Alcides Escobar is 2-for-9 against Giolito. Lucas Duda is 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI.

The Royals have been dreadful with runners in scoring position. They went 1-for-10 in the Wednesday defeat, and for the season are batting .192 (32-for-167) with RISP. Last year, the Royals hit .266 with RISP, which ranked sixth in the American League.

Kansas City will counter with sophomore right-hander Jakob Junis, who has three of the team's five victories. Junis (3-1, 2.03 ERA) beat Detroit 3-2 in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday in his previous start. He gave up two runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts over eight innings.

His 0.75 WHIP ranks second in the American League among qualified hurlers and his 5.06 hits per nine innings checks in at fifth in the league.

Junis' 12 victories in his first 24 appearances are second most in franchise history. Rich Gale picked up 13 wins in his first 24 appearances. Junis' only loss this season was on April 14, a 5-3 setback to the Los Angeles Angels.

This will be Junis' first career start against the White Start. He is 4-1 with a 3.91 ERA against AL Central opponents.