Combined, the three White Sox starters are 12-2 with a 2.49 ERA against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field the last three years—and that includes Garland's 2-1 gem of a victory Friday night.
Of course, with the way the offense has been sputtering, pitching is about the only way the Sox can win these days. But win they have, five of their last six games.
"I always say if you're pitching's good, you have a chance," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "But when you score two runs, I don't know how long that's going to be."
Garland had to be at his best Friday, throwing eight shutout innings. When the Royals finally touched him for a run in the ninth inning on back-to-back doubles, it ended a string of 19 consecutive scoreless innings by Sox pitchers, including Jose Contreras' complete game shutout Thursday of the Twins.
If Garland could have made it through the ninth, it would have been the first back-to-back regular-season complete games for the Sox since 2001, when David Wells and Jim Parque did it.
Garland came into the game with a 3.92 ERA and had pitched better than his 1-2 record, thanks to the inept offense.
"Way better," Guillen said. "Our [starting] staff should have better records, no doubt about it. (coach) Joey (Cora) said if those guys pitched last year like they are now, we would have won 120 games. He's right.
"Hopefully they stay strong and stay together, because if we're going to go to the playoffs, pitching is going to have a lot to do with it."
Sox starters have gone at least six innings in 17 consecutive games, the longest streak in baseball. The last time Sox pitchers had a string that long was in 1978.
Garland got a one-run lead in the fourth inning when batterymate A.J. Pierzynski lined his sixth homer of the season over the right-field fence. This one came off Odalis Perez, which was the second time Pierzynski has homered off a left-hander. He hit only one off a lefty last season.
The Sox came back the next inning with another run, with the Royals' help.
Tadahito Iguchi led off with a double and went to third on Juan Uribe's flyout. After Luis Terrero walked, Darin Erstad hit a potential double-play ball at shortstop Tony Pena Jr. But the ball went between Pena's legs for an error, though Erstad was credited with his 14th RBI.
Meanwhile, Garland was shutting down the Royals. He retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced. The only flaw was Shane Costa's two-out, second-inning single. He also allowed a single in the sixth and a walk in the seventh.
But Garland held the Royals to more goose eggs than his team had, barely.
"We've all seen what these guys can do when they're hot," Garland said. "I'm going to continue what I do on the mound, whether we're ahead 1-0 or 10-0."
Pierzynski appreciates Garland's patience.
"We're trying, we're doing the best we can," Pierzynski said. "It has been a struggle for a lot of us, me included.
"You can see frustration on the guys and I'm right there with them."