The Royals will look to rebound from a loss to the Baltimore Orioles and take a series win Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.
The Orioles will send Matt Harvey (3-10, 7.70 ERA) to the mound, while fellow right-hander Carlos Hernandez (1-0, 4.98) will start for the Royals.
Baltimore won Saturday with a big, early outburst. The Orioles scored two in the second and five in the third to build a 7-0 lead en route to an 8-4 victory.
Harvey has lost nine straight decisions after starting the season 3-1. In his 12 starts since winning his third game, he’s given up at least six earned runs four times. He’s also had three more starts with five earned runs allowed.
“I think it was a tough night, but that was a long first inning,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said after Harvey’s most recent outing, when he gave up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 10-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 7. “I thought we gave away some outs to get him out of that first inning.
“Matt’s grinding right now. He didn’t pitch much last year. We’re at the break; he’s going to get some time off to recharge a little bit.”
Harvey is 2-1 with an ERA of 3.57 and 19 strikeouts in four career starts vs. the Royals.
Kris Bubic pitched six innings of relief Saturday for Kansas City, eliminating him as a possible starter Sunday. In his place, Hernandez will get his first start of the year and his first ever against the Orioles.
Royals manager Mike Matheny probably needs to have the bullpen ready, as Hernandez has not pitched more than 4 1/3 innings this season — and that came May 29.
Hernandez will face a Royals lineup that contains tough-out Nicky Lopez, who was set to open the 2021 season in Triple-A Omaha when Adalberto Mondesi was placed on the injured list. Lopez was thrust into the starting lineup and has rarely left it. He’s played in 83 of the team’s 91 games.
He has spent a majority of his time in the ninth spot, with 261 of his 276 plate appearances coming there. Matheny said he is thrilled with the impact Lopez has provided.
“Nicky has shown (the ability of putting together tough at-bats) all the way through the system,” Matheny said, “and now he’s showing the rest of the league that that’s the kind of hitter he is. He’s taking really good at-bats in tough situations.”
He’s batting .274 but has walked 33 times, giving him an on-base percentage of .358.
His production hasn’t escaped the notice of his teammates, either.
“He’s done a great job,” said Whit Merrifield, the team’s leadoff hitter, following Friday’s game in which Lopez picked up a career-high four RBIs. “I think it’s just a product of him finally getting over the stage of worrying about doing well, because if he doesn’t he might not be on the field the next day. Everybody goes through that when you get to the big leagues.
“He knows he’s going to be out there every day. He can relax and play his game. We’re seeing what kind of game that is. It’s perfect for what we’re looking for in that 9-spot.”
–Field Level Media