Blue Jays-Royals Preview
The Kansas City Royals continued to produce at the plate in the first of many games without Alex Gordon while extending their win streak.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ potent lineup, meanwhile, was relatively quiet in its latest series.
The short-handed Royals will try to continue to shine while claiming a sixth consecutive victory Friday night against the Blue Jays, losers in eight of 11.
Kansas City lost its All-Star left fielder for two months when he strained his groin chasing a fly ball in Wednesday’s 9-7 win over Tampa Bay. The Royals (50-33) didn’t miss him too much Thursday, registering 13 hits in an 8-3 win Thursday to complete their first four-game sweep since September 2008.
Kansas City totaled 33 runs and 52 hits against the Rays, and its six homers were two more than it totaled in its previous nine contests. Lorenzo Cain had his second in as many games Thursday – and eighth of the season – while Jarrod Dyson made a sparkling defensive play while taking over for Gordon.
With that performance, the Royals moved closer to matching their season-best seven-game win streak to open this season.
"We do have a confident team here," manager Ned Yost said. "We think we can get through these things. We think we have the ability to overcome these things."
The Royals might need some more of those hitting performances as they face easily the highest-scoring team in the majors. Toronto (44-44) has plated 470 runs and is among the league leaders with 113 homers, but that didn’t show for much of its four-game set against the Chicago White Sox.
The Blue Jays totaled 10 runs while batting .195 and were denied a split in Chicago with a 2-0 defeat Thursday. They were four-hit for their third shutout this season, but R.A. Dickey expressed confidence his team can get back on track soon.
"We’ve been a very resilient ballclub," Dickey told MLB’s official website. "We’ve fallen off the table a little bit, we jumped back on. That’s one thing about this team that I feel is a little bit different than the teams in the past.
"I don’t think it’s going to be a snowball kind of thing for us here. I think we have an offense that won’t let that happen, and our pitching is getting better. I feel good about that part of it."
Marco Estrada (6-4, 3.59) is coming off his fifth win in six decisions, a 10-5 victory in Detroit on Sunday. He yielded two runs in five innings in that game and has a 1.96 ERA in his last four starts, including a pair of starts in which he took no-hit bids into the eighth inning.
Estrada will face Kansas City for the first time, and the Royals players who have faced him previously are a combined 0 for 11.
The Royals turn to Danny Duffy, who is winless in his last six starts but pitched respectably in his most recent one. Duffy (2-4, 5.14 ERA) yielded two runs in 6 1-3 innings Sunday against Minnesota but suffered his fourth straight loss in a 3-2 defeat.
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 9.35 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays, whom he hasn’t faced since April 22, 2012.
Toronto has not been below .500 since owning a 29-30 record on June 8.