“Get ’em on, get ’em over, leave ’em stranded.”
That’s not exactly the way it’s supposed to go, especially for a baseball team that relies on situational hitting rather than the long ball. But that seems to be the way the Kansas City Royals are playing lately.
The Royals are 6-for-67 with runners in scoring position in their last eight games, and they’ve lost seven of them, including Saturday’s 7-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox, in which the Royals were 0-for-11 with RISP.
The Red Sox and Royals will play the rubber game of a three-game series Sunday.
Boston will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (7-3, 3.76 ERA) to the mound. Kansas City will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (5-4, 4.63).
“When you’re able to come through in those situations, you put a pitcher on his heels,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said of his team’s recent offensive futility. “If we get a lead, you never know how it’s going to impact the outcome of the game.”
The Royals have had only one game in the last eight with more than one hit with runners in scoring position. Matheny says his players just need to keep attacking.
“Our guys have the right approach,” he said. “When you’ve got a pitcher making good pitches, you have to put the ball in play. We just haven’t been able to do that.”
Hoping to keep the Royals in a funk will be Eovaldi. He is coming off a tremendous outing against the Blue Jays, when he allowed no runs on three hits in 6 2/3 innings. Eovaldi has given up two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts.
“Whenever we get on a good streak, it starts with good pitching,” Eovaldi said after his start against the Blue Jays. “If you look back to the previous ones, all the starters, we were all rolling together. I think it takes one starter to go out there and do a great job, and it kind of resets everybody.”
His start was much needed by the Red Sox, whose starters were 0-4 with a 12.00 ERA, 10 home runs allowed and a .400 opponent batting average in their previous six games.
“It was definitely a big one,” Eovaldi said. “Our bullpen was down a little bit. So for me to be able to come in and get past the sixth inning and give the team a chance to win, it was a big one for us.”
In four career outings (two starts) against the Royals, Eovaldi is 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA.
If the recent pattern holds, Minor is due for a solid outing. He’s alternated wins and losses in his last four starts. In his last start, he allowed four earned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked none. But it wasn’t enough, at least in his mind.
“I didn’t have anything really tonight,” Minor said. “They had some holes, but I couldn’t exploit them because I couldn’t locate any pitches. We threw a lot of fastballs, and I probably shook (catcher Salvador Perez) too many times, but I didn’t really have a whole lot of confidence with any of the pitches.”
In 10 career games – six starts – against the Red Sox, Minor is 2-3 with a 3.77 ERA.
–Field Level Media