The Kansas City Royals‘ offense was understandably stumped by Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 of their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, but the upcoming rubber-game should offer them much more hope. Kershaw threw eight outstanding innings against KC, making short order of a lineup that was recently MLB‘s hottest. Dan Haren should have no such success against the Royals in Game 3.
Tonight’s starter for L.A. has been far from lights-out against KC in his career. His last start against the Royals came on Aug. 25 last year and resulted in a seven-inning start and four runs scored. In two starts against the Royals in 2012, Haren failed to get through the sixth inning and allowed seven total runs. He wasn’t awful against Kansas City, obviously, but he just isn’t the reigning-and-future Cy Young Award winner fresh off a no-hitter.
KC’s starter should also help to give them the edge in Game 3. James Shields hasn’t been his usual dominant self lately, but we’re talking about a proven veteran ace, so either improvement or news of a nagging injury is inevitable. Shields should do relatively well against L.A.’s lineup by taking advantage of their lack of experience against him. Only four Dodgers — and that’s including backup Chone Figgins — have more than five plate appearances against him. In the 100 plate appearances against KC’s ace from those four Dodgers, L.A. produced only three extra-base hits.
Royals fans can’t assume Haren will be terrible tonight, but he will be mortal. Kansas City, or any other team in pro sports, needs to win close games to prove their legitimacy, so this is the kind of situation in which they need to thrive.