Royals battle the Braves in Atlanta
(AP) — Despite being on the brink of their longest winning streak in 13 years, the Atlanta Braves are remaining level-headed.
The Kansas City Royals, meanwhile, are generating some excitement with their solid start.
Atlanta sends Kris Medlen to the mound as it seeks a 10th consecutive victory Tuesday night to begin a two-game set against visiting Kansas City.
The Braves (11-1) are getting it done both at the plate and on the mound, outscoring opponents 62-23 while posting a major league-best 1.82 ERA. They’re off to their best start since beginning 13-1 in 1994 after beating Washington 9-0 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of the defending NL East champions.
Atlanta has swept three straight series for the first time since sweeping four in April 2000, which was part of a 15-game winning streak from April 16-May 2. It hasn’t won 10 consecutive games since then.
“It’s early,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I don’t think we’re going to play .998 baseball the rest of the way, but it sure is better than 1-11.”
Though the Braves are averaging 5.2 runs, they’re hoping some of their top hitters can find their stroke. B.J. Upton went 3 for 5 with two doubles Sunday but is still hitting just .163, and Jason Heyward is 4 for 39 (.103) with two extra-base hits.
“The best is yet to come, I feel, for the offense,” Heyward said. “It’s a long season. We’re just trying to keep it simple and not try to do too much.”
The pitching, though, has been stellar as the starters have given up only six runs over 40 1-3 innings spanning the last six games. That includes last Tuesday when Medlen (1-1, 1.50 ERA) allowed an unearned run and three hits in seven innings of a 3-2 win over Miami.
The right-hander retired the final 10 batters and threw only 24 pitches over his last three innings.
Medlen’s only start versus the Royals came when he allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings as the Braves won 5-4 on a ninth-inning homer June 19, 2010.
Kansas City won in similarly exciting fashion Sunday, as Alex Gordon’s RBI single in the ninth drove in Chris Getz for a 3-2 victory over Toronto. The Royals (7-5) avoided a three-game sweep and have won seven of nine since dropping their first two.
“We had two losses and we said, ‘Whatever, let’s go out and get a win,'” Gordon said. “Last year was last year and we’re playing different now.”
Kansas City finished 2012 a disappointing 72-90 and is more than pleased with its 2013 start.
“We went through a pretty nasty skid (last season),” Getz said. “(This season’s start) just kind of helps the energy for Kansas City.”
Gordon has been a major reason for the early success, hitting .373 after going 2 for 5 to extend his hitting streak to 11.
“You’ve got to have somebody that’s consistent, and Alex is about as good as you can get offensively,” manager Ned Yost said.
The Royals also have gotten consistency from Tuesday’s starter Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.55), who is 7-0 with a 2.37 ERA over his last 13 starts, of which Kansas City has won 12.
The right-hander allowed four runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-4 win over Minnesota in hist most recent outing last Tuesday, He lost his only start versus Atlanta while with Baltimore on July 1, 2011, giving up four runs over seven innings.