Series preview: Kansas City Royals

BY foxsports • April 18, 2011


Right-hander Joakim Soria has been an American League All-Star selection in two of the last three years, logging at least 30 saves in each of those three seasons.
   
While Soria is 1-0 and has logged four saves in five opportunities this season, he has not been automatic. He has a 7.04 earned run average and has allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks in 7 2/3 innings.
   
He gave up four runs -- all with two out and nobody on base in a blown save on April 6 against the White Sox -- for the first time in his career.
   
Soria held on for an April 15 save against the Mariners, but allowed two inherited runners to score and one of his own runs, walking two, including one with the bases loaded, and a hit.
   
"When people say, 'What's wrong with him?' Nothing's wrong with him," Royals manager Ned Yost insists. "The fact remains he's human, he's not a machine. Things happen."
   
Yost blamed the bitter cold -- upper 30s with a wind-chill factor in the 20s -- for his poor April 15 outing. He said it was difficult to grip the baseball.
   
"It was like throwing an ice cube," Yost said.
   
Soria, however, did not use the freezing temperatures for a justification.
   
"I never put excuses on myself," Soria said. "It was a very bad outing out there. Thank God we got a win. I got lucky out there."

NOTES, QUOTES
   
--OF Alex Gordon singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, which is the longest active streak in the majors. Gordon's career longest hitting streak is 12 games in 2008.
   
--LHP Bruce Chen suffered a minor back spasm while leaping for a high bouncer April 14 against the Mariners, but said he has no problems since. He is scheduled to make his start Tuesday against the Indians.
   
--RHP Kyle Davies, who is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA, will make his fourth start Monday against the Indians. In nine appearances against the Indians, Davies is 3-5 with a 5.80 ERA. He was 0-2 with a 5.19 in three starts last season against Cleveland.
   
--IF Wilson Betemit made his eighth start of the season Sunday at third base and has also started one as the DH. IF Mike Aviles has started seven games at third base and one at second base. He was used a pinch runner Sunday and stole second in the ninth inning.
   
--LHP Jeff Francis has four quality starts to begin this season, but nothing in the win column to show for it. Francis left a 1-1 game Sunday with one out in the seventh and two runners on base, but reliever RHP Blake Wood allowed both to score in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners. Francis is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA, giving up nine runs on 27 hits and three walks in 27 innings, while striking out 14. "It's a shame we can't seem to score runs for him," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He doesn't give in. He makes the pitches he needs to make."
   
BY THE NUMBERS:  8,811 -- Announced attendance for April 14 game against the Mariners. It was the smallest Kauffman Stadium crowd since Sept. 21, 2005, when the announced attendance was 8,640 for a game against the Tigers.
   
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Miserable comes to mind, and nothing else does." -- Royals 1B-DH Billy Butler, on playing in the rain with the wind-chill factor in the 20s on April 15 against the Mariners.

ROSTER REPORT
   
MEDICAL WATCH:
   
--LHP Bruce Chen (back spasm) was injured leaping for a high bouncer April 14 against the Mariners. He is scheduled to make his start April 19 against the Indians.
   
--RHP Robinson Tejeda (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 13.
   
--C Jason Kendall (right shoulder surgery in September 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22.
   
--RHP Henry Barrera (right elbow sprain) was hurt Feb. 25, and he went on the 60-day disabled list March 13. He hopes to return by midseason.


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