In yesterday’s rehash of the three-game sweep at the hands of Detroit, it was noted that the Royals need to get more base runners for the red-hot Billy Butler and to get better protection behind him, so he has the opportunity to do more than hit singles. To that end, Eric Hosmer needs to snap out of his slow April start, as does Jeff Francoeur. The Royals also need Alex Gordon to continue the gradual warming he started on against Detroit—a hit in all three games—to continue, and they can certainly use Mike Moustakas to build off his respectable start. While Moustakas’ early numbers don’t dazzle you, the third baseman is doing a nice job hitting the ball in the gaps, with five doubles.
Toronto has their share of offensive woes as the season starts, with designated hitter Edwin Encarcion the only one who’s hot out of the gates. Jose Bautista has yet to hit a home run and his batting average is .214, although having drawn eleven walks its apparent opposing pitchers aren’t going to deal with him. And why should they? Colby Rasmus and Kelly Johnson, two National League imports who need to have good seasons are not swinging the bat well early, and prize second-year catcherJ.P. Arencibia is hitting a buck-11. Kansas City pitching needs to keep these players under wraps and then just pitch around Bautista.
Luke Hochevar takes the ball for the Royals tonight, his first start since taking a shot off the leg against Cleveland last week. Both his health and his early performance—a 7.84 ERA in two starts—will be under scrutiny, as counterpart Kyle Drabek has a 1.42 ERA in his first two starts. On Saturday, Luis Mendoza goes for the Royals against Drew Hutchison, a 22-year-old making his first major league appearance. Sunday’s finale sends Toronto ace Ricky Romero to the hill to face Danny Duffy, who went toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander this past Monday and is pitching well.
An edge Kansas City might have is in the bullpen. While Toronto’s pen looks good for the long haul, they aren’t performing well right now, with the Francisco Cordero-Sergio Santos crew not yet settled in. Kansas City’s relievers did a good job against Detroit and if they keep it up, can put their team in position to grab a couple badly needed wins this weekend.
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