Royals-Cardinals Preview

The St. Louis Cardinals’ recently sub-par offensive performances

have been rather perplexing, especially considering the slump has

come at home.

The low-scoring Kansas City Royals hope to continue taking

advantage.

Kansas City seeks a season-best fifth consecutive victory when

it faces St. Louis in the continuation of the I-70 Series on

Saturday.

Since scoring a season-high 14 runs at Houston on June 7, it has

taken the Cardinals the first seven games of their nine-game

homestand to match that number.

St. Louis (33-32) has scored two or fewer in six of those

contests, including a 3-2 loss in the series opener Friday.

Tyler Greene had three hits for the Cardinals, who are tied for

second in the NL in runs per game (5.0) at home. Their .289 home

batting average is tied for the best in the majors, though it has

dropped eight points during the homestand.

Carlos Beltran, who returned to the lineup after missing

Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox with a stomach virus,

stole his 300th career base to become the first switch hitter in

major league history with 300 home runs and 300 steals.

He’s hitting .467 (14 for 30) during an eight-game hitting

streak he extended in his first career game against Kansas City,

which drafted him in 1995.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to play this game for long, and

today, it’s great,” Beltran told the team’s official website. “It

would have been great if we would have won.”

If not for the Cardinals’ pitching staff posting a 3.00 ERA and

two shutouts over the last seven, their homestand could be much

worse. Joe Kelly experienced a lack of run support his last time

out.

Kelly (0-0, 1.80 ERA) allowed one run in five innings in his

major league debut as the Cardinals fell to the Indians 4-1 on

Sunday. The right-hander, pitching in place of the injured Jaime

Garcia, threw 79 pitches and struck out four.

“Now that I have the first one out of the way, mentally I’m

ready to keep going, ready to keep pitching,” Kelly said. “I just

try to let the defense do the work, don’t try to strike everyone

out.”

Kelly will face a Royals team that has won four straight but

hasn’t scored more than four runs in its last nine games. Kansas

City (28-34) ranks last in the AL with 237 runs scored.

Each contest during the team’s winning streak has been decided

by one run, and none of the Royals’ past nine has had a margin

larger than two.

“It’s hard to stay awake, the games are so boring,” manager Ned

Yost sarcastically told the team’s official website.

The Royals’ pitching staff has a 2.13 ERA during the winning

streak, a mark Bruce Chen will look to improve upon in his first

career start in St. Louis.

Chen (5-6, 4.44) allowed three runs in five innings of a 3-2

defeat at Pittsburgh on Sunday, though he’s improved since

beginning the season 0-4 with a 4.98 ERA through six starts. The

left-hander is 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA in his last seven outings, but

he’s 1-2 with a 5.74 ERA in three career starts versus St.

Louis.

The Royals and Cardinals have split 28 all-time regular-season

meetings in St. Louis.