RANGERS (18-22) AT ROYALS (15-28)
1:15 p.m. ET; FSSW, FSFC, MLB.TV
After snapping their second five-game losing streak of the season with a 6-1 victory Wednesday, the Texas Rangers will look to take the series against the Royals in a Thursday matinee in Kansas City, Mo.
The Royals, on the other hand, will be looking to win a rubber game for the first time this season.
Kansas City has not won a series since taking three straight games against the Cleveland Indians from April 12-14. The Royals have split the first two games in each of their past five three-game series, and they lost the finale on each of the previous four occasions.
Both teams will be sending veteran starters to the mound, pitchers who would rather let their arms do the talking. The Royals will rely on right-hander Homer Bailey (4-3, 4.83 ERA), while the Rangers will start righty Lance Lynn (4-3, 5.48 ERA).
Lynn is tied for the team lead with his four wins. His high ERA has come down with three straight effective starts, going 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA (nine earned runs in 20 innings) with 20 strikeouts. When asked about how he would approach the Royals’ lineup he quipped to reporters, “I’m just going to flip a coin and hope for the best.”
Bailey earned his club-leading fourth win in a 5-1 defeat of the Phillies in his last outing. He allowed one run on four hits in five innings. He declined to comment before Wednesday’s game about his upcoming start.
The Royals had a frustrating night Wednesday. Three times in the first four innings, they had runners on second and third with one out and failed to produce a single run in those situations. Entering the game, the Royals had been good all season in those situations, with six of Wednesday’s starters hitting at least .300. It just didn’t happen Thursday.
“I didn’t do a good job getting runners across,” said Whit Merrifield, who came into the game with a .370 career average with a runner on third and less than two outs. “I was extremely frustrated with my day. (In my) second at-bat, coming up with second and third and one out, I didn’t even come close to putting the barrel on the ball. I’ve got to do a lot better than I did.
“(Rangers starter Mike Minor) was making pitches close to what he wanted to do. I just kept helping him out. He was throwing fastballs up and in, out of the zone. I don’t know why I kept swinging at them, but I kept swinging at them.”
The Rangers will be without shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was placed on the 10-day injured list prior to Wednesday’s game with a right hamstring strain. He was replaced on the roster by outfielder Willie Calhoun.
Calhoun acquitted himself well in his season debut, going 2-for-5 with a two-run home run.
Calhoun had been tearing up Triple-A, producing a .365/.500/.692 slash line over his last 16 games. He was batting .304 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs for the season in Nashville. The success carried over to the majors.
“He comes in and is kind of the spark player that gets us going,” Texas manager Chris Woodward told reporters. “I’m not surprised. I’ve seen that bat. He’s got amazing hands with that swing. It was nice to see.”
Andrus was batting .325 with six home runs and 26 RBIs this season while starting a team-high 38 games. He hurt his hamstring while running out a ground ball in the seventh inning of the series opener Tuesday night. Woodward said he thinks Andrus should be ready to come back within 10 days, but he wants to make sure the injury is fully healed.
“I hope it’s before that,” Woodward said, “because then he’ll be ready. You don’t want this to linger with him being an older guy and a shortstop. There are a lot of demands on that position.”
–Field Level Media