It’s hard to win a lot of baseball games when having to come from behind often, but being unable to maintain leads is even more frustrating.

The latter situation applies to the Kansas City Royals as they return home to open a three-game series against the Cleveland Guardians on Friday.

Aaron Civale (2-5, 7.04 ERA) will get the start for the Guardians. Brady Singer (3-3, 4.30) gets the ball for the Royals.

The Royals just finished a seven-game road trip. While their 3-4 record doesn’t look that bad, the fact that they held leads of at least two runs in all four losses makes that mark hard to swallow.

Kansas City lost three out of four in Houston, the second stop on the trip, squandering leads of five runs, two runs and two runs in the three defeats. Even in the game they won, they almost blew a 5-1 lead before scoring two runs in the ninth for a comfortable 7-4 victory on Wednesday.

On Thursday, they led 2-0 entering the fifth, but starter Kris Bubic gave up three runs on two home runs in the fifth.

“He came out of the gate really good but just had the one inning,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Unfortunately, a couple good hitters took advantage of the ballpark, but he shouldn’t have been in that part of the lineup at that point.”

While Matheny was speaking of Bubic, his words could be applied to just about any of his starting pitchers when he added, “He has to continue to understand how his aggressiveness is going to be beneficial to him. He’s just got to get over that hump of one inning that’s getting him.”

Singer has completed six innings in just one of his past seven starts. The one time he went deep in the contest, he allowed five runs (four earned) in 8 1/3 innings against the Oakland A’s and lost 5-3 on June 26. The home run ball has been a problem, as he has allowed at least one long ball in six of his past seven outings.

He will try to get things going against a team that has never beaten him. Singer made his major league debut against Cleveland in 2020, and he is 2-0 with a 4.30 ERA in six appearances, five starts, vs. the Guardians.

Civale is 0-1 with a 5.75 ERA in four career starts against the Royals. He will make his second start in Kansas City this season after he got a no-decision in his 2022 debut on April 11, when he yielded four runs (two earned) in 3 1/3 innings.

Civale’s biggest problem this year has been length. His Saturday start against the New York Yankees was just the second time all season that he pitched six or more innings. He allowed four runs on five hits in six-plus innings, with two walks and six strikeouts, and he picked up his second straight loss.

“I thought (we) had a good game plan going in,” he said after the game. “But that’s a very good lineup. I don’t think we let that affect us. We tried to attack them the way that works best for me.”

The Guardians limp into Kansas City after getting swept in a four-game series by the host Detroit Tigers. Cleveland has lost six of its seven games this month and has not scored more than four runs in any contest during that span.

–Field Level Media