The Atlanta Braves hope to solve Royals hurler Ervin Santana on Tuesday when they make their first-ever visit to Kauffman Stadium to face Kansas City in the opener of a two-game Interleague series.
While it has been an up-and-down season to this point for the Royals, one man who has been remarkably consistent is Ervin Santana, who will start Tuesday's game. The right-hander has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last seven starts. In four starts in the month of June, Santana has posted a 0.94 ERA while holding batters to a .165 average over 28 2/3 innings.
But with Kansas City's offense struggling throughout much of the season, Santana enters the day with only five wins on the season.
"We don't have to think about that," Santana said. "Every time we take the mound, we have to do our best and trust our bats. You just try to make it simple. Trust our teammates, try to play hard and know that things aren't going our way right now, but it's going to turn around."
Kris Medlen gets the start for Atlanta in what marks the franchise's first trip to Kansas City. Medlen faced Kansas City at home back in April and walked away with a no-decision despite allowing just one run over seven innings.
In his last outing, Medlen limited the Mets to one earned run over seven innings on Wednesday, as he struck out seven and walked nobody. Like his counterpart, Medlen has not received much run support, as he boasts only four wins despite a 2.96 ERA. In five of his seven losses, Medlen has allowed three or fewer runs.
He'll hope for the offense to pick up right where it left off during Sunday's 7-4 victory over Milwaukee, which followed back-to-back shutout losses in the first two games of the series. Brian McCann hit a first-inning grand slam to end the team's 24-inning scoreless streak, and Chris Johnson and Jordan Schafer later added solo homers.
"Games like this, they say hitting is contagious," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Hopefully, it catches a couple of guys and keeps going."
Justin Upton sat out the final two games of the Milwaukee series with a sore hand, although Gonzalez is hopeful the outfielder will be ready to go after Monday's off day. Still, he said he would not rush Upton, who leads the team with 15 home runs. Middle-of-the-lineup cogs Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman have combined to go just 9-for-50 over the last seven games.
Kansas City ended a four-game losing streak with Sunday's 7-6 triumph over the White Sox. The Royals plated three runs in both the fifth and eighth innings to complete the comeback.
Despite the much needed victory, the middle of Kansas City's lineup continues to struggle. The Nos. 3, 4 and 5 spots in the lineup have combined to go just 5-for-53 over the last five games.
"We don't put more pressure on the 3-4-5," manager Ned Yost said. "Offense doesn't hinge on two guys or three guys, it hinges on nine guys. A productive and consistent offense hinges on nine guys with each guy doing their job, whatever that job is."
Atlanta leads the all-time series, 5-3, after sweeping the Royals at home in 2010. These teams split a two-game set back in April.