Major League Baseball
Royals-Cubs Preview
Major League Baseball

Royals-Cubs Preview

Published Sep. 28, 2015 12:49 a.m. ET

The Kansas City Royals rode a wild-card berth all the way to the World Series last season following many years of disappointment.

If the Chicago Cubs are able to do the same in 2015, the Royals plan on meeting them in the Fall Classic.

The playoff teams square off Monday night at Wrigley Field in a makeup of a May rainout.

Kansas City (90-65) beat Oakland in last year's AL wild-card game in its first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 championship before falling to San Francisco in Game 7 of the World Series.


That run came as a beloved underdog, which the Cubs (90-65) know something about having not won a title since 1908. The AL Central champs will have more of a target on their backs this year, though, as they are tied with Toronto for the AL's best record.

The Royals joined the 1919-25 Philadelphia Athletics as the only clubs to improve their win total for six straight seasons after beating Cleveland 6-3 on Sunday.

"It's a testament to (general manager Dayton Moore) and how he has built this organization up," manager Ned Yost said. "It's a testament to these young players, that they continue to not be satisfied. They continue to strive to do better and be better."

Theo Epstein's rebuilding plan also has come to fruition, with the Cubs set to make their first playoff appearance since 2008 led by a host of rookies under first-year manager Joe Maddon.

Jake Arrieta is bidding to become Chicago's first Cy Young winner since Greg Maddux in 1992 and added another stellar effort to his resume Sunday, pitching seven innings of one-hit ball and homering in a 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh that was a potential preview of the NL wild-card game set for Oct. 7.

Kris Bryant has continued making his case for the league's Rookie of the Year by hitting .452 with two homers and seven doubles over his last 11. He drove in his 99th run Sunday, and Starlin Castro added a two-run double as the Cubs snapped a three-game skid.

The Royals beat the Cubs 8-4 on May 29 before the following day's game was rained out. Yordano Ventura (12-8, 4.40 ERA) allowed one run in seven innings May 31, but Chicago won 2-1 in 11 innings.

The right-hander will take the Wrigley Field mound again in this makeup contest looking to improve on his 5.32 ERA over his last four starts. Ventura pitched six innings of Kansas City's 4-3, 10-inning win over Seattle on Wednesday.

He'll oppose Kyle Hendricks (7-7, 4.23), who is looking to find some consistency in hopes of being a part of the Cubs' playoff rotation should they advance into the division series.

Hendricks retired the first 14 batters he faced Wednesday against Milwaukee before giving up a run in the fifth and two more without recording an out in the seventh of a 4-1 loss.

The right-hander struck out eight and didn't walk a batter for the second straight outing.

"He's a young major league pitcher, he's going to keep getting better," Maddon said of the 25-year-old. "He had it all going on. He pitched really well, we just didn't score any runs."

It's unclear if Hendricks will have to face Kendrys Morales, who sat out Sunday with a bruised right ankle after being hit with a pitch the day before.

Morales is hitting .391 with four homers in his last five road games.

Alex Gordon is batting .118 with 16 strikeouts over his past nine, but he went 4 for 8 with a home run against the Cubs in May.


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