Rangers going for season sweep of Royals (Jul 16, 2017)

BY AP • July 16, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers are not just going for a three-game series sweep Sunday of the Kansas City Royals.

The Rangers are going for a season sweep of the Royals, having won their first six games against Kansas City. They won 1-0 Saturday night behind the pitching of Cole Hamels and Shin-Soo Choo's run-producing single in the ninth inning. Bring out the big push brooms.

The Royals have scored a total of eight runs in the six losses.

But the Rangers' dominance is beyond these six games. They have won 12 straight over the Royals. The last time the Rangers lost to the Royals was July 22, 2016.

The only thing standing between the Royals ending this dozen-game skid against Texas is Rangers' All-Star right-hander Yu Darvish, who starts Sunday.

"It's a really good lineup they have," Darvish said. "It's not going to be easy for me."

Darvish has lost his past three starts and is 0-4 with a 4.85 ERA in his past five turns. His ERA has climbed to 3.49, which still ranks eighth in the American League.

Against the Royals, Darvish is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four career starts. He beat the Royals on April 23, allowing home runs to Mike Moustakas and Jorge Bonifacio in a 5-2 victory. The homers came within three pitches in the third inning. Darvish recovered to retire 15 of the last 16 Royals he faced and went eight innings.

Darvish is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two career starts at Kauffman Stadium, allowing five earned runs in 13 innings.

Royals designated hitter Brandon Moss has given Darvish fits. Moss has four home runs and six RBIs in 26 at-bats against Darvish. Moss is tied with Mike Trout and Brett Gardner for most homers off Darvish.

The Royals will counter with right-hander Ian Kennedy, who is 3-6 with a 4.45 ERA in 16 starts. He got a no-decision against the Dodgers in his previous start, allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings.

He had never beaten the Rangers. Kennedy is 0-2 with a 3.77 ERA in five career starts against Texas, including a no-decision this season. Kennedy is winless in his past 10 home starts.

The Royals have lost five in a row, their longest losing streak since a nine-game skid to end April. They have fallen below .500, 44-45, for the first time since June 29 when they were 38-39.

The club remains on the fence on whether they will be buyers or sellers, but if they don't turn it around soon on this 10-game homestand, they likely will not be aiming to buy.

With Nathan Karns undergoing season-ending surgery on Wednesday, the club is thin in starting pitching. They could be looking to add a fourth or fifth starter.

"I'm content with this team," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "I think this team is good enough to win. But you're always looking for ways to improve your roster. We'll look internally first, but at this time of the year, it makes perfect sense to evaluate the market."

If the Royals want to start dealing, they have plenty of good players that are about to become free agents -- i.e. Eric Hosmer, Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas, Mike Minor and Alcides Escobar -- that would be attractive to other contending clubs.

Meanwhile, they are trying to find a way to beat the Rangers.

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