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Duffy looks to keep Royals in playoff hunt versus White Sox

CHICAGO -- As the Kansas City Royals keep their attention on the present, the Chicago White Sox have already started to turn their attention to next season.

The Royals' postseason hopes were already slim heading into this weekend's three-games series as Kansas City trailed the Minnesota by 3 1/2 games for the American League's second wild card spot.

But the Royals climb got even more difficult after Kansas City blew a four-run lead in a 7-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox that extended their deficit in the wild card chase to 4 1/2 games. Still manager Ned Yost said the Royals' chance to extend their season beyond next week has kept the team motivated.

"If they didn't have that hope, you wouldn't see them fighting as they're fighting on that field every day," Yost said Friday.

The Royals will look to Danny Duffy to get them back on track. Duffy has experienced his share of frustrations this season with a forearm strain and elbow stiffness. Duffy made his first start in nearly a month last Sunday -- a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians -- allowing two runs over five innings when he was limited to 65 pitches.

But after being sidelined with the forearm strain, Duffy is happy to again be part of a Royals rotation that has had its share of issues with injuries this season.

"I've been looking forward to pitching for a long time," Duffy said following the start, according to the Kansas City Star. "It was nice to get back out there. I felt at home."

Duffy, who is 6-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 17 career starts against the White Sox, has struggled this season against Chicago this season, dropping all three of his starts.

As the Royals continue to chase after a postseason berth, the White Sox focus remains on trying to find positives that Chicago can carry into manager Rick Renteria's second season. Despite his team's struggles in a season when the majority of Chicago's star power was traded away, Renteria continues to see a team that hasn't quit.

"I think they've been really consistent in their effort, their preparation, their willingness and desire -- especially with all the changes that have occurred -- to try and compete," Renteria said before his team won its second straight game. "We've been in a lot of ballgames and holding or own. Obviously, the victories haven't been coming as (frequently) as we'd like, but it's not for a lack of effort."

After young right-hander Reynaldo Lopez won on Friday, the White Sox will turn to another youngster on Saturday. Dylan Covey (0-6) will make his fourth start against the Royals this season.

Covey is 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA against the Royals and is part of a youthful rotation that Renteria said needs to find better strike zone command moving forward. Covey has an 8.18 ERA in 16 starts this season and has allowed 18 home runs and has walked 31 in 58 1/3 innings. Like many of his fellow pitchers, Covey will attempt to use his final two starts to try to build momentum heading into the offseason.

"I'm sure (at) the end of the season, every single one of them is going to run in their head what went on this year, what they could have done better," Renteria said. "They will all be, I hope, good self-evaluators. Sometimes, we have to help them in understanding what they're looking at but, I think that all in all they're taking in a lot of information and lot of experience."

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