Royals look to maintain momentum against struggling O’s

BALTIMORE — The Kansas City Royals are slowly climbing out of an early season hole with some key victories.

The same cannot be said for the Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore has lost six consecutive games and was swept by the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics in the most recent West Coast road trip. The Orioles own the worst record in the American League at 8-26.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter hopes the upcoming nine-game homestand beginning Tuesday against the Royals will help his team get back on track.

“Defensively, we’re not playing as well as we need to and obviously some guys with track records are going to catch up and make somebody pay at some point,” Showalter said. “I just hope it happens soon for their sake as much as ours.”

Kansas City has also struggled but has been trending upward recently. The Royals have won six of their last nine games. Kansas City (11-23) also managed to win a series for the first time this season by taking three of four from the Detroit Tigers last weekend.

“We’ve been going out and grinding and playing good baseball,” Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “Obviously, things haven’t really been going our way. Lately, we’ve been playing great ball. Things are starting to fall for us. Our staff has been doing phenomenal and our defense is always there. If we keep doing those things, we’re going to keep getting better.”

Dylan Bundy (1-4, 3.76 ERA) will try to set the tone for the Orioles in the opener. After a strong start to the season, he has labored in his last two appearances, allowing 18 hits and 15 runs (12 earned) in nine innings. He has also given up five home runs during that stretch.

“It’s hard to pitch when you’re 2-0 and kind of put in a hole and you have to throw a fastball there,” said Bundy, who is 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA in three career games (two starts) against the Royals. “Just pitching behind in the count the past two starts now and I really got to get ahead of guys to be able to throw pitches where I want to.”

Kansas City will counter with Danny Duffy (0-4, 5.64 ERA). He allowed five runs, including four homers, and 10 hits with six strikeouts and one walk in 6 2/3 innings on May 2 against the Boston Red Sox.

The Royals are 0-7 when Duffy has made a start this season. He is 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA in nine career games (seven starts) against Baltimore.

“My stuff’s been good but not good enough at all this year,” Duffy said. “My team lost every game I’ve started. It’s not good that somebody who you trust to get the job done regularly is not doing what they expect me to do and what I expect from myself.”

Duffy could get himself on track against Baltimore, which is struggling in all facets of the game. The Orioles have committed 26 errors, the second-highest total in the American League.

“We’re not good on defense,” Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph said. “We haven’t been very good offensively. Our baserunning has stunk at times. Just every phase, absolutely every phase. Starting pitching, relieving, closing, defense, outfield, infield, you name it. We can improve on everything.

“That’s what it takes to win a major league game in the big leagues, and we’re not consistent.”

The Orioles held outfielders Adam Jones and Trey Mancini out of the starting lineup in the series finale against Oakland. Jones was nursing a sore right wrist after getting hit by a pitch on Saturday. Mancini aggravated a previous knee injury. Both could be back in the lineup Tuesday.