What’s clicking for the Chicago White Sox’s AL Central foes? A look at the early success of the division rivals.


Pedro Grifol saw an American League Central on an upswing.

“I wasn’t part of that camp to say that the AL Central is not a good division,” the Chicago White Sox manager said before Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field. “Over time, you start seeing teams getting better and better. And you see young players getting better and better. And teams start to formulate.”

The Twins were the only team in the division with a winning record in 2023.

As the end of April approaches, four of the five AL Central teams are above .500 — and the first-place Cleveland Guardians entered Monday with the top winning percentage in the American League (.679).

“Cleveland’s way better this year than they were last year,” Grifol said. “Kansas City is way better this year than they were last year. They’re contending teams. I don’t take anybody for granted.”

The 6-23 Sox have witnessed some of those improvements firsthand.

They dropped 15 of their first 17 games against AL Central foes, their worst start since the three-division format began in 1994. Nine of the 15 losses were by one or two runs.

Here is a look at what’s been clicking for the four teams — against the Sox and others — to date.

Cleveland Guardians (19-9)

Members of the Chicago White Sox look up from the grass outside the dugout as the moon partially covers the sun during a total solar eclipse over Progressive Field in Cleveland on Monday, April 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Triston McKenzie and four relievers limited the Sox to four hits on April 8 in a 4-0 Guardians victory. The Guardians are tied for second in the AL with four shutouts and lead the league with 274 strikeouts. They are sixth in the AL with a 3.22 ERA.

The Sox built five-run leads the next two nights, only to see the Guardians rally on both occasions. The Sox pulled out a 7-5 win on April 9, but lost 7-6 in 10 innings the next night.

Josh Naylor was a big factor in the series finale, hitting a solo home run in the fourth and driving in the game-tying run in the top of the 10th. Naylor is seventh in the AL with 21 RBIs and his .895 OPS ranks 12th in the league.

The Guardians are the only AL Central team the Sox will see in May — aside from Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins. They come to Guaranteed Rate Field for a four-game series May 9-12.

Kansas City Royals (17-13)

Chicago White Sox first base Andrew Vaughn (25) attempts to get Kansas City Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. (7) out on first base during a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)
Chicago White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn attempts to get Kansas City Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. out on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)

The Royals have four shutouts this season, two against the Sox.

Seth Lugo allowed four hits over seven innings in a 2-0 win against the Sox on April 15 at Guaranteed Rate Field. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA in six starts.

The Royals are fifth in the AL in ERA (3.18), with Lugo (fifth) and Brady Singer (13th, 2.62) ranked in the top 15.

Offensively, Salvador Perez — who hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 1 of an April 17 doubleheader against the Sox — leads the AL with 26 RBIs. His .990 OPS ranks third, while teammate Bobby Witt Jr. is 11th in that department (.886).

The Sox have lost six of seven against the Royals. The teams don’t play again until the first series after the All-Star break — July 19-21 at Kansas City.

Detroit Tigers (16-12)

Tigers shortstop Javier Baez tries to turn a double play after forcing out White Sox left fielder Kevin Pillar on March 31, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Eileen T. Meslar/Chicago Tribune)
Tigers shortstop Javier Baez tries to turn a double play after forcing out White Sox left fielder Kevin Pillar on March 31, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Eileen T. Meslar/Chicago Tribune)

Tarik Skubal has been one of the top pitchers in the AL as he displayed on opening day when he tossed six scoreless innings against the Sox. Skubal allowed three hits and struck out six in Detroit’s 1-0 win.

Skubal is 4-0 with a 1.72 ERA in six starts. He’s part of a staff that’s fourth in the AL with a 3.14 ERA.

The Sox dropped all three games in the season-opening series against the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field, each by one run.

The teams next meet June 21-23 in Detroit.

Minnesota Twins (15-13)

Minnesota Twins Byron Buxton celebrates while running the bases on a home run against the Chicago White Sox during the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Minnesota Twins’ Byron Buxton celebrates while running the bases on a home run against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

The Sox found themselves in an early hole April 22 at Target Field, surrendering two runs in the first inning against the Twins. They never recovered in a 7-0 loss.

It was the beginning of eight consecutive victories for the Twins, which has propelled the team to a winning record. The Twins recorded double-digit hits in each of the first seven wins — hitting .348 as a team during the stretch. Edouard Julien has a team-leading seven home runs, three coming against the Sox.

The Sox were outscored 25-11 while dropping all four in last week’s series at Target Field. They know any improvements have to start with the division, where coming into Monday they had lost 33 of 43 dating back to July 21 of last season.



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