KANSAS CITY -- If the first two games between the White Sox and Royals are any indication of things to come, then the American League Central should be nothing short of an entertaining, hotly-contested battle.
That intensity has manifested itself in a little gamesmanship through the start of this series at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have been hit four times: twice by Jeff Samardzija on Monday, and twice by Jose Quintana in Wednesday's 7-5 victory, including after both benches were warned when Danny Duffy threw behind Adam LaRoche with two outs in the second. That pitch seemed to fire up the White Sox, who didn't have a baserunner through their first five hitters, but scored three runs on three hits after Duffy's ill-advised near-miss.
And with Lorenzo Cain being hit in back-to-back games, something he can never think of happening before in his career, it certainly was rewarding for him to connect on a first-pitch Zach Putnam cutter with the game-winning, two-run homer in the eighth.
"Well, it felt good to hit [the homer]," Cain said. "This series has definitely been intense."
"It doesn't take much to get us fired up," said Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who hit a three-run homer off of Quintana in the third. "We're a young and energetic group."
Kansas City certainly won't be intimidated, not when this young group came within one win of capturing the 2014 World Series title. Despite losing the first two games, the White Sox won't back down either.
As for Duffy's pitch behind LaRoche and near his head, that location goes over the guideline of rivalry retaliation.
"Yeah, you don't ever want to see that happen, much less see it from the angle I had and coming right at me," said LaRoche. "I would imagine that one just slipped. You'll have to ask him."
"You see what's going on. You don't want to see anything up there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "They're a good team. There's no question about it. We've got to be able to find a way to get some runs and get more than they do."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.