Rockies-Royals Preview

While they’ve gotten off to a strong start behind the top offense in the major leagues, the Colorado Rockies are having a difficult time consistently stringing runs together during their road trip.

They’re hoping to change that in a two-game series in Kansas City, where the Royals have struggled on the mound.

Colorado looks to avoid a fourth loss in five games while dealing Kansas City its fifth straight home defeat Tuesday night.

Although they’ve had to endure a grueling start with 40 games in 42 days, the Rockies (23-17) lead the majors with 230 runs, 57 home runs, a .302 batting average and .350 on-base percentage. They averaged 8.3 runs and hit .377 with 12 homers while winning six of their first seven this month.

Troy Tulowitzki keyed that stretch, going 14 for 23 with two homers and nine RBIs. The star shortstop, hitting a major league-best .395, is 9 for 25 with four home runs in his last six against the Royals (18-19).

Though Tulowitzki has hit two home runs in the last three contests, Colorado has cooled off on this seven-game trip. The Rockies opened the trek with a 9-2 win over Texas on Wednesday and beat Cincinnati 11-2 on Saturday, but they’ve totaled four runs in losing the other three games.

Colorado matched a season low with four hits Sunday as Charlie Blackmon hit his second homer in as many games in a 4-1 loss to the Reds.

”We’ve got starting pitchers hurt and a lot of position players are banged up because of the rigors of the schedule,” said Blackmon, second in the majors with a .352 average. "When we get healthy and get reasonable rest we’ll play better.”

They’re hoping to begin another scoring surge at Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals have posted an 8.00 ERA over a four-game losing streak. The offense led the way Sunday when Kansas City capped a 4-3 trip with a 9-7 victory over Seattle.

James Shields (4-3, 2.70 ERA), winless in two home starts, contributed to the skid as he allowed season highs of eight runs and 12 hits over 6 1-3 innings in an 8-2 loss to Detroit on May 2.

The right-hander bounced back to win his fourth straight road start Wednesday when he gave up seven hits over seven innings in an 8-0 victory at San Diego.

"There was a point in my career when I was really, really good at home and I wasn’t so good on the road, and last year was the complete opposite," Shields, who is 3-8 with 4.49 ERA in 18 home starts with Kansas City, told the team’s official website.

He hasn’t faced the Rockies since 2007 while with Tampa Bay but has plenty of experience against first baseman Justin Morneau, who is 14 for 41 (.341) with four homers and six doubles in their matchups.

Colorado’s Franklin Morales (3-2, 5.18) was moved up a day with Jorge De La Rosa getting pushed back to Friday because of back spasms. The left-hander has been knocked around in his last three starts, going 1-1 with a 7.31 ERA.

Morales surrendered five runs over six-plus innings in a 5-0 loss at Texas on Thursday. He’s given up two runs and five hits over five innings in four relief appearances against the Royals.

Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer, who had two doubles Sunday, hopes to stay hot after going 14 for 31 on the trip. Alcides Escobar hit a second-inning grand slam Sunday before Johnny Giavotella added a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh.

The Rockies have won four of the last five meetings.