SAN DIEGO -- Kansas City Royals rookie Eric Skoglund learned a valuable lesson in his last start, just the second of his big-league career: Pitching from behind is no way to succeed.
"Up here, you have to get ahead in the count," he said. "You have to throw first-pitch strikes."
He didn't do it often enough Sunday against the Indians. The lanky left-handergave up two two-run doubles in a rain-shortened outing in which he faced just 11 batters and lasted two innings.
"I made some mistakes on pitches up that you won't get away with up here," Skoglund said. "That's how important first-pitch strikes are here. I didn't take advantage. I didn't execute."
Skoglund will make his third major league start -- and his first on the road -- when the Royals open a three-game series in San Diego on Friday night.The Royals arrive at Petco Park following a split with the major league-leading Houston Astros, who won the series finale 6-1 on Thursday in Kansas City. The Royals were no-hit for the first 6 1/3 innings.
Skoglund (1-1, 4.32 ERA) hopes to resemble the pitcher he was in his major league debut, when he dominated the Detroit Tigers on May 30. He hurled6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Tigers and earned the win.
The rookie will face Padres right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who will be happy to be pitching at Petco.
Chacin (4-5, 4.65 ERA) lost his last time out at Petco Park, and that was a rarity. He allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings to the Colorado Rockies, his lone stumble in five home starts this year.
Even with the rocky showing Saturday, he has assembleda 1.36 ERA in San Diego. His slider is showing more bite by the San Diego Bay, with hitters batting .176 against it.
So it has roughly been sink (on the road) or swim (at Petco) for the veteran who signed with San Diego in the offseason.
Before getting beat by the Rockies, Chacin had been charged with two runs over 27 innings at home. But his numbers on the road are the other way in a big way: In 30 2/3 innings, he has surrendered 36 runs (35 earned).
While the Rockies went on to take a 10-1 laugher Saturday, Chacin pitched better than his line revealed. His trademark slider got pummeled by Nolan Arenado for a homer, but that was among his few mistakes.
"That pitch to Arenado, I hung it," Chacin said. "When you hang your slider to a good hitter like Arenado, you're going to pay for it."
In catcher Austin Hedges' eyes, Chacin was sharp.
"I thought he was outstanding," Hedges said. "One bad pitch to Arenado, but aside from that, he was great. The slider and the sinker were working very well."
Chacin is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in one career start against Kansas City, back in 2014.
The Padres are coming off a tough, albeit abbreviated, road trip. They were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game series, getting outscored 32-9.
San Diego looks to snap a five-game losing streak that comes on the heels of a season-high, five-game winning run. The hot stretch included a three-game sweep of the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.