In the most recent series between the Orioles and Royals, a major brawl between Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado and Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura highlighted (low-lighted?) what turned out to be a sweep for the Birds. This time, the O’s head to KC with much heavier hearts.
The uber-talented Ventura tragically passed away in a car accident back in January. Although he was likely viewed as a “villian” by many fans of the black and orange, his death has been a major blow to the MLB community. It’s certainly something his friends, family and teammates will never get over.
Machado told the Baltimore Sun in February that he personally reached out to the Ventura family at the time. It’s another reminder that this is just a game and the time we have on this earth is brief, so let’s not try to not hate anyone, but rather enjoy the people we love.
The 2017 season has been tough for Kansas City. They are among the worst teams in baseball and most of that is due to their inability to score runs. The Royals ranked dead last in MLB in runs scored (103), batting average (.217), on-base percentage (.279) and slugging percentage (.340). However, they do remain solid on the base paths as they are 20-for-24 in stolen base attempts.
Despite their offensive struggles, they do have a respectable quartet in the middle of the lineup that pitchers will need to be cautious with. Eric Hosmer’s .291 batting average leads the team. Lorenzo Cain has a nice .399 on-base percentage. Mike Moustakas’ eight homers are pretty solid. And Salvador Perez is dangerous all-around with his .284/.325/.517 line and seven homers.
On the pitching side, Kansas City finds itself right next to the Orioles in terms of team ERA. The 3.95 ERA is 0.01 better than the Royals, but both numbers are middle-of-the-pack. As with many struggling teams, the bullpen has been a problem for KC. In just 10 opportunities, they have blown five saves and have a 4.97 ERA as a group.
The hurlers do get some help from their defenders, though. The Royals .992 fielding percentage is tops in all of baseball. Cain and Alcides Escobar continue to be advanced metrics darlings with the leather, and Hosmer has done a nice job at first.
All said, the Royals have been a bad team overall, but they just took three of four from the Rays in Tampa. So, this is far from an easy series to win.
Game 1: Friday at 8:15 pm, MASN 2
Dylan Bundy (5-1, 2.17 ERA) vs. Danny Duffy (2-3, 3.50 ERA)
Bundy was set to start the final game against Washington, but the postponement gives him an extra day of rest before he gets a much softer lineup in Kansas City. There isn’t much of a history between Bundy and the Royals hitters. All together, they are 2-for-6 against him stemming from a relief outing last April.
A extra day between starts has been a good thing for Bundy in his short major league career. According to Baseball Reference, when the righty gets five days of rest, he has a 3.15 ERA as opposed to a 3.72 ERA with normal rest and a 4.35 ERA on more than five days of rest.
Duffy is a stud against the O’s. In seven career games, including five starts, the southpaw has a 2.37 ERA and just a .183 batting average against. Birds that have really struggled: J.J. Hardy has a 1-for-11, Adam Jones is 1-for-7 and the foursome of Ryan Flaherty, Joey Rickard, Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop are a combined 0-for-10.
Game 2: Saturday at 7:15 pm, MASN 2, WJZ, MLBN
Chris Tillman (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Nate Karns (2-2, 4.58 ERA)
Welcome back, Mr. Tillman. The staff “ace” returned from injury to make his season debut last time out against the White Sox. He didn’t look fantastic, but fought through five scoreless innings somehow while walking three, striking out four and giving up three hits. It was a pleasant surprise after all of his poor rehab outings with the minor league clubs.
Tillman has had some trouble with this batch of KC hitters. Moustakas is 5-for-13 with a home run. Escobar is 6-for-20, and Perez is 5-for-14 with a home run. However, Cain is 1-for-11 and Brandon Moss has just one hit in 15 at-bats against Tilly.
Karns is coming off of two consecutive, impressive starts in which he tossed 12 total innings, struck out 17, walked three and allowed just four runs off of seven hits. The right-hander came to the Royals from Seattle in the Jarrod Dyson trade back in January.
Not too many Orioles have faced him a bunch, but some notable lines are a 3-for-10 with two home runs from Chris Davis, 3-for-12 from Jones, and a 1-for-13 from Manny Machado. Hardy also has a home run in five at-bats against Karns.
Game 3: Sunday at 2:15 pm, MASN 2, WJZ, MLBN
Kevin Gausman (2-3, 6.63 ERA) vs. TBD
Gausman turned in his best outing of the season by far last time out. Against a hot-hitting Nationals lineup, the right-hander threw seven strong innings, allowing just two runs and striking out eight. Now, can he tie two solid starts together?
The Orioles flamethrower has never pitched against the Royals in the regular season. Moss is the only hitter with experience against him and he is 1-for-5. He did get into two games of the 2014 ALCS, not allowing any runs in 4.1 innings of work.
Kansas City has not announced a starter. This is their fifth starter spot, and it is currently vacant while Ian Kennedy rehabs a hamstring injury. Chris Young got the start last time through the rotation, but he struggled, allowing four runs on seven hits, four walks and two strikeouts in only three innings. Even still, Ned Yost was quoted earlier in the week that he was leaning towards giving Young the start anyway.
The 6-foot-10 righty has been bad for the Royals going back to last season. At the moment, he sports a 5.93 ERA and a 5.59 FIP over 13.2 innings, including that one start, this season.
Somehow, the Orioles current crop of hitters has stunk against him. As a group, they are 7-for-51 in their careers when facing Young. Hardy with his 1-for-11 mark is the biggest offender. But a 1-for-6 from both Machado and Davis as well as a 1-for-7 from Jones don’t help either.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Royals
This poll is closed
3 (Orioles sweep the series)
0 (Orioles get swept)