Major League Baseball

Struggling Jays, Royals seek better 2nd half

mlb2ROYALS (28-54) AT BLUE JAYS (30-52)
4:07 p.m. ET; SN, FSKC, MLB.TV

The Toronto Blue Jays started out the second half of their schedule in the right way if they intend to make up for a dismal first half.

They defeated the Kansas City Royals 6-2 Friday night in the 82nd game of the season for each team. Both teams entered the four-game series, which continues Saturday, on a pace to lose more than 100 games each this year.

The Blue Jays began a 10-game homestand that follows a 2-4 road trip. The Royals are 1-3 during their seven-game trip and are 12-29 on the road this season.

Right-hander Homer Bailey (7-6, 4.61 ERA) will start Saturday for the Royals against Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman (5-9, 3.04).

The Blue Jays continued to get hot hitting from left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on Friday night when he had his second straight two-homer game along with three RBIs. He has 14 home runs and 33 RBIs on the season.

“Awesome, he’s doing great,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It’s fun to watch. It’s not easy to do what he is doing, offensively and defensively. He’s on fire right now.”

Gurriel is batting .352 (44-for-125) with 14 homers and 26 RBIs in 32 games since being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on May 24.

Gurriel was moved to left field from second base when he was in Buffalo, and he has become comfortable in the outfield.

The Blue Jays also got home runs Friday from Eric Sogard and Randal Grichuk.

Royals manager Ned Yost said that giving up long balls is not the norm for his team.

“We’ve been burned by the home run it seems like the last couple of games,” Yost said. “You would think that we’re really giving them up, but we’re not. We’re the fourth-lowest club in the American League for giving them up. It just seems like there have been a few lately that have hurt us.”

The Blue Jays regained a starting player Friday when first baseman Justin Smoak (left quadriceps strain) was activated from the injured list and outfielder Billy McKinney was optioned to Buffalo. Smoak was 1-for-3 with a walk and played some stellar defense.

The Royals are getting closer to having shortstop Adalberto Mondesi return from a groin strain. He is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Saturday. He has not played since June 18. There is no timeframe for his return.

“When he’s ready, he’s ready,” Yost said.

Bailey will be going for his fourth straight win Saturday. He allowed one run and five hits in 5 1/3 innings to earn the win when the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Sunday. Eddie Rosario‘s solo homer in the fourth inning ended Bailey’s 16 2/3 innings scoreless streak — the longest such streak by a Royals pitcher since 2015.

Over his three-game winning streak, he has allowed just one run in 19 innings, leading the majors since June 13 with a 0.47 ERA. Bailey has never pitched against Toronto.

Stroman continues to be the subject of trade rumors, although the Blue Jays’ rotation is bare even with him.

On Saturday, he will face the Royals for the first time since 2017. During his career, he is 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts against them.

–Field Level Media

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