Royals, Rays both look to bounce back from rough series

For the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals, their respective visits to Baltimore and Cleveland had one good moment but ended with unpleasant outcomes.

Both teams will be hoping for some positive vibes Monday night when the Rays visit the Royals for the opener of a three-game series.

The Rays (16-23) were within a game of .500 following a 5-3 home win over the Toronto Blue Jays on May 5. Since then, they are 1-6 in their last seven games, a skid that increased by dropping three of four to the Baltimore Orioles.

Tampa Bay allowed 35 runs to the Orioles and the series ended with a 17-1 loss that featured position player Johnny Field pitching a scoreless eighth.

Sunday also marked the Rays’ largest margin of defeat since a 21-4 loss to the New York Yankees on July 22, 2007. Relievers Andrew Kittredge, Austin Pruitt and Chaz Roe allowed a combined 12 earned runs.

“Our pitchers definitely didn’t do us any favors,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters.

Especially Kittredge, who did not retire a batter and was optioned to Triple-A Durham, forcing the Rays to make a move for Monday’s game.

“We’ve got our work cut out,” Cash told reporters. “We’re going to have to make some decisions.”

Things did not go much better for the Royals (13-27), whose weekend began with a 10-9 comeback win Friday. Kansas City followed it up by getting outscored 17-4 in the next two games.

With its 11-2 loss Sunday, the Royals have dropped four of five since a 15-7 win at Baltimore on Tuesday. When the Royals scored 10 times in the first inning, they were on the way to a seventh win in 10 games but since then the starting pitching has faltered.

“There’s always concern when you go through a bit of an extended stretch, but we just keep working,” Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters.

Both teams faced the opposing No. 1 starter Sunday. The Rays totaled two hits off Dylan Bundy while the Royals fared slightly better, getting eight hits in seven innings against Corey Kluber.

Among those not getting a hit was Tampa Bay’s Wilson Ramos, who saw an 18-game hitting streak end, one shy of Jason Bartlett’s 2009 team record. For the Royals, Salvador Perez went 2-for-4 and has 17 RBIs in 20 games since returning from the disabled list.

Both offenses will be facing young pitchers trying to establish themselves. Tampa Bay will start Ryan Yarbrough and Kansas City will start Eric Skoglund.

Yarbrough will be making his third career start after seven relief appearances. As a starting pitcher, he is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA.

Yarbrough last pitched Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in which he allowed five runs on six hits in five innings. He allowed a three-run homer to Nick Markakis.

Skoglund will be making his seventh start and is 1-2 with a 6.34 ERA. Since striking out nine in a 5-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on April 28, Skoglund has struggled, compiling a 6.55 ERA in his last two starts. He allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision Wednesday at Baltimore.

Skoglund is among the American League rookie leaders in innings pitched (32 2/3 innings) and strikeouts (28).

The Royals have won 16 of the last 19 home meetings with the Rays.