Major League Baseball

Royals look for split of 4-game series vs. Blue Jays

mlb1ROYALS (29-55) AT BLUE JAYS (31-53)
1:07 p.m. ET; SN, MLBN, FSKC, MLB.TV

The Kansas City Royals will try to gain a split of their four-game series against the host Toronto Blue Jays in the finale on Monday afternoon as they complete a seven-game trip.

The Royals overcame a 5-1 deficit Sunday afternoon with a five-run third inning to claim a 7-6 victory, their first win of the series with Toronto and second win of a trip that started in Cleveland.

After starter Brad Keller allowed six runs in five innings, the Royals’ bullpen allowed only a walk in the final four. Kevin McCarthy pitched two perfect innings, Jake Diekman one perfect inning, and Ian Kennedy earned the save, pitching around a leadoff walk in the ninth.

“It worked perfectly,” Royals manager Ned Yost said afterward.

Nicky Lopez, who was called up May 14, continued to impress Sunday, going 2-for-5 at the plate and contributing strong defense at second base.

“Nicky’s been making good plays ever since he’s been here at second,” Yost said.

Lopez is batting .340 (16-for-47) in his past 12 games.

The Royals will start right-hander Glenn Sparkman (2-3, 4.07 ERA) in Monday’s Canada Day matinee against Blue Jays left-hander Clayton Richard (0-4, 6.89).

The Rogers Centre has been a difficult place for the Royals in recent seasons, as they had lost five in a row there before Sunday.

The Blue Jays had some encouragement from their 13th loss in 20 one-run games this season. Justin Smoak hit two home runs, his 10th multi-homer game of his career. Smoak, who has 14 home runs for the season, had just returned from the injured list (strained quadriceps) on Thursday. The first baseman was used as designated hitter Sunday.

“It was good to see Smoaky swinging the bat well because he was struggling a little bit when he was hurt,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Smoak, who went on the IL June 15, had not hit a home run since June 1.

Toronto’s top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did not start Sunday, and walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. He will be back in the lineup Monday. He has been named to compete in the Home Run Derby July 8 during the All-Star break.

Sparkman will be making his 16th appearance and eighth start of the season Monday. Sparkman did not factor into the decision Tuesday when he allowed three home runs in allowing five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Indians. The Royals won the game 8-6.

Sparkman made his major-league debut on June 30, 2017, when he was with the Blue Jays. In two relief appearances with Toronto, he allowed seven runs in one inning. He was drafted by the Royals in the 20th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. The Blue Jays claimed him in the Rule 5 draft in 2016 and returned him to the Royals on July 8, 2017.

He was 0-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 15 games (three starts) last season with the Royals. He has pitched once against the Blue Jays, taking a no-decision in a start on Aug. 16 when he allowed two runs and four hits in four innings. The Royals won the game 6-2.

Richard will be making his eighth start of the season and will be going for his first win as a Blue Jay. He last faced the Royals in 2015 as a reliever. He is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA in eight career games (four starts) against the Royals.

–Field Level Media

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