The less said about the Giants series, the better — so let’s look ahead to these next four games when the Cardinals face the Kansas City Royals for two games at Busch Stadium and then two games at Kauffman Stadium.
Here to provide what we need to know about the Cards’ neighbors to the west on I-70 is Jen Nevius of Drinking the Royals Blue Aid. And you might be surprised as you read on — right now, other than the standings, these two teams are more alike than you might think.
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The Royals are heading into this series with St. Louis with a 26-30 record, good enough for dead last in the American League Central. Not a lot has been going right for the underachieving Royals, especially offensively. That led to a coaching carousel and Dale Sveum taking over the hitting coach duties at the end of his past week.
As a Cardinals fan, what do you need to know about your opponent the next four days? Here are five things to know about the Royals:
1. Power outage: The Royals have hit just 24 home runs this season, the least amount in the Majors. Their current roster has hit 22. Their normal middle of the order — Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon — have combined to hit six (with four hit by Gordon).
To go along with that power outage, many complain about how hard it is to hit the long ball at Kauffman Stadium. Well, opponents have hit 25 home runs this season at the K. The Royals? Just 10.
2. The revolving door at third base: The Royals started the season with Mike Moustakas, who was coming off another hot spring training. Then came a platoon with the right-handed hitting Danny Valencia, who the Royals acquired for his power bat (he has one homer and seven RBIs in 69 at-bats).
Then Moustakas was sent to the minors, something that should have been done last season, and Valencia got hurt. That left third base to Pedro Ciriaco (.250) and Jimmy Paredes (.200). Paredes was sent back to the minors on Saturday. Then Moustakas was brought back up after just eight games in Triple-A (.355), as Valencia landed on the DL. Moustakas is hitting a whopping .148 this season, though he has four home runs and 17 RBIs.
3. RISP struggles: Prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Blue Jays, the Royals left 3.76 runners in scoring position per game. They also ground into 0.78 double plays per game. Their batting average with RISP is .244, which is 18th in MLB. They are hitting just .202 with RISP and two outs.
4. The rotation: The pitching staff (minus a few hiccups) has been the saving grace of the Royals this season. Danny Duffy and James Shields will start the first two games of this series and both are coming off horrendous starts. Shields is the lone starter to have faced the Cardinals in 2013 and it was one to forget for him (May 27th). He allowed six runs on nine hits and five walks over six innings.
Jason Vargas will start the third game (first in Kansas City), with rookie Yordano Ventura expected to make the start in Thursday’s finale. Ventura was skipped on Saturday due to an elbow issue, but seems to be fine (he will throw a bullpen session on Monday). If he is fine, you are in store for something special because he can #ThrowFire.
5. Wade Davis and Greg Holland: Davis has been a breath of fresh air, locking down the setup duties for the All-Star closer. Davis has struck out 42 in just 24.1 innings, while allowing just 10 hits and nine walks. Holland is 15-for-16 in save opportunities. He has struck out 30 in 20.2 innings with just six walks. If the Royals have a lead heading into the eighth inning (or maybe even the seventh because these two have not pitched a lot), it will be hard for the Cardinals to score.
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You can find the five things about the Cardinals I wrote for Jen here.
Tonight’s game is at 7:15 p.m. with, as Jen mentioned, Danny Duffy starting for the Royals. Shelby Miller gets the start for the Cardinals. It’s on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Kansas City and ESPN.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.