The Kansas City Royals will aim to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. If they are successful, it will be the fifth consecutive series they have either won or drawn dating back to their 1-2 defeat at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The man given the task of leading the Royals to this mark is the ‘other’ member of the starting rotation: Luis Mendoza. Mendoza is the only member of the rotation who was with the organisation at the beginning of the 2012 season and he made the starting rotation as a bit of a dark horse against the strongly-favoured Bruce Chen.
Mendoza is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA so far this year, but that is only over three games and two starts. He was desperately unlucky not to get a win in his first outing of the year after dominating the Philadelphia Phillies, only to have the save blown in the ninth.
Mendoza will likely face Jeremy Hellickson, who is 1-2 with a 4.31 ERA so far this year. The key for the Royals will likely be to try to get to him early; a lot of pitchers are shaky in the first inning, but this has been particularly the case for Hellickson. That may be easier said than done however, as Hellickson has tended to do very well against the Royals, and in fact has excellent recent numbers against the current roster.
The Royals will also hope they do not have to play against the weather as well as the Rays tomorrow. Although the forecast has improved, a cold front is supposed to come through the Kansas City area near game time and there is a decent chance of rain. The game may come down to who can get a lead in the first five innings.