American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, July 5th (All times Eastern)
Kansas City Royals (36-44) at Toronto Blue Jays (42-40), 7:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Kansas City - Luke Hochevar (5-8, 5.23) Toronto - Henderson Alvarez (5-6, 4.15)
(Sports Network) - Venezuelan-born right-hander Henderson Alvarez can follow a teammate's pitching gem with one of his own tonight, when the Toronto Blue Jays close out a four-game series with the visiting Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays were 4-1 winners in Wednesday's third game when Carlos Villanueva (3-0) tossed six shutout innings, scattered four hits and struck out seven without walking a batter.
Jason Frasor and Darren Oliver navigated through the seventh and the eighth, respectively, and Casey Janssen locked up his 11th save of the year with a perfect ninth inning.
Yunel Escobar drove in two runs, while Rajai Davis and Kelly Johnson both added an RBI with sacrifice flies for the Blue Jays, who have won four of their last six.
"I thought we did an excellent job of manufacturing some runs," manager John Farrell said.
Jeff Francoeur accounted for the only run with an RBI triple for the Royals, who have lost five of six.
Luis Mendoza (3-5) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on nine hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Alvarez, who turned 22 in April, debuted with Toronto last season and was 1-3 in his initial 10 starts while posting a respectable 3.53 earned run average and allowing an opposition batting average of .262.
In 16 starts so far in 2012, he's posted a 4.15 earned run average and allowed foes to hit .287 against him through 102 innings, while walking 21 batters and striking out 32.
He was 3-6 after 14 starts through mid-June, but has won two straight since in defeating Boston and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim while giving up 13 hits and four earned runs in 12 innings.
Alvarez has never faced the Royals.
Kansas City counters with former No. 1 overall draft pick Luke Hochevar, who had a personal two-start win streak snapped in his last outing.
The first selection in the 2006 draft out of the University of Tennessee, Hochevar defeated Houston and Tampa Bay in consecutive outings on June 19 and 25 while allowing 12 hits across 16 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Royals won the games, 2-0 and 8-0, respectively.
The Denver native's streak ended on June 30, however, when he was touched for eight hits and five runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Hochevar, who is 3-1 in six lifetime starts against Toronto, last faced the Blue Jays on April 20 and allowed a run on two hits in five innings, ultimately getting a no-decision in Kansas City's 4-3 loss.
The Blue Jays dropped the season series to the Royals in 2011, four games to three. Toronto last won the season series in 2008.
07/05 10:34:40 ET