Trying to rebound from yet another home loss, the Kansas City Royals challenge the New York Yankees in the third test of a four-game set at Kauffman Stadium tonight.
Kansas City, which posted its first home win of the season on Thursday night in a 4-3 win over the Yankees in the series opener, fell right back into the loss column yesterday as it bowed in a 6-2 final. With the setback the Royals dropped to 1-11 in their own stadium, their 8-17 mark overall placing them 6 1/2 games out of contention in the American League Central as well.
Getting the job done for New York, as the team still comes to grips with the fact that reliever Mariano Rivera has been lost for the season with an ACL injury, was CC Sabathia who gave up just two runs on seven hits and struck out five over eight innings of action for his fourth win in as many decisions.
"It feels good. You know it always feels good to win a game, especially with everything we've been through in the past day," Sabathia noted as he referenced the injury to Rivera.
At the plate it was Derek Jeter who knocked in a pair and scored twice as he registered his fifth home run of the season. Mark Teixeira had a home run of his own and also plated a pair for the visitors as they remained 4 1/2 games out of first in the AL East. Also sparking the visitors was Eduardo Nunez who delivered the go-ahead RBI triple during the four-run seventh inning for New York.
KC starter Bruce Chen was saddled with the loss, his fourth in as many decisions this season, as he surrendered six runs on nine hits, while fanning four, in 6 2/3 innings of action.
"They're very good hitters. Right now Jeter's very hot. I'm not saying he's not a good hitter, but right now he's on fire. He's hitting the ball well. I should have made better pitches," Chen acknowledged.
Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon both scored for the hosts as they again struggled to produce at home. Mike Moustakas, who saw his batting average dip to .315, struck out three times.
Taking the hill for the visitors tonight is Hiroki Kuroda as he shoots for his second straight win. The Osaka product, still winless on the road after a pair of defeats versus Tampa Bay and Texas, is trying to follow up his win over Baltimore on Monday with another positive effort.
Against the Orioles the right-hander worked his way through seven innings, allowing just a single earned run on four hits and a walk, while fanning three.
Now in his fifth year in the majors, Kuroda is going up against the Royals for the very first time.
Coming off the disabled list and making his first start of the season this evening for the Royals is right-hander Felipe Paulino. Now on with his third team as he enters his fourth campaign, the 28-year old sported a record of 4-6 with KC last season and was just 4-10 overall after taking into consideration his 18 appearances with Colorado as well.
Paulino, who lost his only previous outing against the Yankees, has a career mark of 10-31 with a lofty 5.28 ERA.
While Paulino has had a history of struggling with his ERA, that's also the case with the Royals overall this season with the team placing 12th in the AL with a mark of 4.67. Then again, the Yankees don't have much room to brag as they are just one spot above KC in that department with a collective 4.38 ERA over 26 contests.
Now in his 17th season with New York, Jeter has seemingly found the fountain of youth as he leads the AL in batting with a .404 average and is second in the league in runs scored with 20. Perhaps most astonishingly for the ageless shortstop is the fact that he already has five home runs this season, just one shy of his entire total from last year.
After winning just five times in 14 opportunities against the Yankees between 2009-10, KC split the six meetings with the Bombers a year ago and are again an even 1-1 thus far in 2012.