Astros-Royals Preview

The Kansas City Royals have to hope an off day doesn’t hurt the

momentum they’ve built. They may need to be sharp again with Kyle

Davies set to take the mound.

Following an impressive weekend at the plate, the Royals may end

up having to overcome yet another poor start from Davies as they

open a three-game series with the Houston Astros on Tuesday

night.

In a matchup of two of the majors’ worst teams, Kansas City

(27-37) has been the better club of late. While the Astros (25-39)

were swept by the Yankees over the weekend, the Royals won two of

three from NL Central-leading Cincinnati.

Kansas City has averaged 6.8 runs en route to winning three of

four. In their previous 11 contests, the Royals were held to three

runs or fewer seven times.

Billy Butler set season highs with four hits and four RBIs

Kansas City’s 7-3 win Sunday. He had a home run and a double,

giving him seven hits in his last eight at-bats.

“We’ve had a stretch of games where we haven’t scored a lot of

runs,” Butler said. “I hadn’t been able to get the pitchers to come

to me. They were pitching me tough – pounding me inside.”

Butler is batting .462 (12 for 26) with a homer, four doubles

and five RBIs in six interleague games this season.

Royals outfielder David DeJesus delivered three hits, including

a homer, and four runs. DeJesus is hitting .398 with 17 RBIs over

his last 24 games.

Jason Kendall, though, is mired in a 1-for-28 slump for Kansas

City. The veteran catcher is 3 for 21 against NL opponents this

season.

After catching a gem from Zack Greinke, Kendall will likely be

Davies’ batterymate. Davies (4-5, 5.48 ERA) has been terrible over

his last three starts, going 1-2 with an 8.62 ERA.

The right-hander surrendered five runs and eight hits while

walking five in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-2 loss to Minnesota on

Wednesday.

Davies has never faced the Astros.

Houston will give the ball to Felipe Paulino (1-7, 3.82), who is

1-1 over his last five starts despite a 1.75 ERA, and has gotten an

average of 2.0 runs to work with. The right-hander gave up two runs

and struck out seven in eight innings of a 6-2, 10-inning win over

Colorado on Wednesday.

Paulino has lasted eight innings in each of his last three

outings.

“He’s throwing the ball extremely well and doing a great job,”

manager Brad Mills told the Astros’ official website. “As a team,

we’re 4-1 in his last five starts. Even though he’s maybe not

getting the W’s, he’s keeping us in there and going deep into the

games and giving our bullpen some rest.”

This is Paulino’s first appearance against the Royals.

Slumping first baseman Lance Berkman will likely be back in the

lineup after sitting out Sunday’s 9-5 loss in New York. Berkman is

1 for 23 over his last six games.

The five-time All-Star is hitting .421 with six homers and 21

RBIs in 15 games versus the Royals.

Kansas City won two of three at Houston last season.