Royals return home after frustrating road trip, face Reds
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals return home Tuesday night to open an eight-game homestand.
Normally Kauffman Stadium would be a welcome sight to the struggling Royals after dropping six of seven games on a California trip to Anaheim and Oakland, but not anymore.
The Royals have lost 21 of 31 home games this year. They are 22-44 overall with only Baltimore owning a worse record in the American League.
The first two games are against the Cincinnati Reds, who likewise have an appalling record, 23-43. They possess the worst record in the National League.
This series could help determine which club will have the higher first-round draft pick in 2019. The first overall pick is within the grasp of both clubs.
The Royals will start veteran right-hander Ian Kennedy in the opener. Kennedy is coming off a start Thursday against the Angels when he allowed one run and seven hits over five innings in a no-decision. Overall, he is 1-6 with a 5.76 ERA.
Kennedy has not won since April 7 at Cleveland. He had a 1.00 ERA in his first three starts this season, allowing two earned runs over 18 innings. Since then, he has allowed 40 earned runs over 47 2/3 innings for a 7.55 ERA. He has a 10.13 ERA in his first two June starts and went 0-2 with a 7.09 ERA in five May starts.
Since going 13-13 in 2014 for the San Diego Padres, Kennedy has a 16-45 record.
Kauffman Stadium has been a house of horrors for Kennedy. He went 1-8 with a 6.46 ERA in 15 home starts in 2017. This season, he is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in seven Kauffman Stadium starts.
Kennedy, 33, still has two years remaining after this season on his five-year, $70 million contract. The Royals will owe him $16.5 million for each of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, which makes him all but untradeable unless the club wants to eat a lion’s share of his contract.
Kennedy beat the Reds the last time he faced them, allowing one run, a homer, on two hits over five innings, but had to pitch around six walks.
Few Reds have faced Kennedy. Joey Votto is 5-for-15, .333, with a home run and three walks. Scooter Gennett is 4-for-10 with a home run. The Reds plan to utilize Votto as the designated hitter for these two games in an American League park.
The Royals are optimistic outfielder Jorge Soler will be in the lineup Tuesday. He has not played since Friday in Oakland, suffering a bone bruise on his left big toe after fouling a pitch off his foot.
The Reds, who like the Royals were off Monday, beat St. Louis 6-3 on Sunday to snap a 13-game losing streak against the Cardinals.
Right-hander Sal Romano will start the first game. He is 3-7 with a 6.23 ERA. He has never pitched against the Royals.
This will be Romano’s 14th start this season and his 30th major league appearance. He made his big league debut last year, making 16 starts in three different stints.
Romano went 2-3 with a 7.45 ERA in six May starts. In his lone June start last Wednesday, he took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts against the Colorado Rockies.
While Kauffman Stadium is a spacious park, expect balls to be flying over the fences for these two games. The Royals pitching staff has allowed a major league-high 97 home runs, one more than the Reds.