Blue Jays-Royals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 20, 2012
Behind a plethora of emerging talent, the Kansas City Royals were expected to take a step forward this season and possibly end a run of eight straight losing seasons. That may still happen, but they certainly aren't making it easy on themselves. Still seeking their first home win, the AL-worst Royals hope to end an overall seven-game losing streak overall night when they open a four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays. Although they lost over 90 games for the third straight season, the Royals showed promise in 2011 as youngsters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were added to an already solid offense. The continued maturation of starting pitcher Danny Duffy and the addition of left-hander Jonathan Sanchez offered hope Kansas City might be ready to contend in the Central. Judging by the first two weeks, the Royals don't appear ready for prime time - at least not yet. Kansas City (3-9) has lost its first six games at Kauffman Stadium - the most consecutive home losses in franchise history to start a season. The Royals are the only team in the majors without a home win. "If you had a losing streak like we have right now in the middle of the season and your record was decent, you wouldn't think much about it. It's the fact that we started this way," Royals owner David Glass told the team's official website. Much of the blame rests with the team's offense. Kansas City is 13th in the AL with 45 runs and last with nine homers. For the first time on their homestand, the Royals led for more than one inning, but Detroit scored twice in the seventh en route to a 4-3 victory Wednesday. Kansas City, which scored six runs during the three-game sweep by the Tigers, hasn't lost eight in a row since a 10-game skid July 10-24, 2009. One bright spot has been Billy Butler, who is batting .455 (15 for 33) with six RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. He is 7 for 10 with four doubles in his last two games against Toronto. The Blue Jays (6-6) open a seven-game trip after completing a 4-5 homestand with Thursday's 9-4 loss to Tampa Bay. Slugger Jose Bautista went 5 for 30 (.167) with one homer and three RBIs on the homestand, while J.P. Arencibia was 3 for 24 (.125) - and two of those hits came Thursday. Kyle Drabek (2-0, 1.42 ERA) looks to continue his outstanding start for Toronto. The right-hander turned in another stellar outing Sunday in a 9-2 victory over Baltimore to win consecutive starts for the first time. He allowed one earned run and six hits over a career-best 7 1-3 innings, striking out six and walking one. Drabek wasn't sharp in his only start against the Royals on June 7, but hung around long enough to earn an 8-5 win. He gave up five runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. Hoping to build on a solid season debut, Luke Hochevar (1-1, 7.84) didn't have anything close to the same success against Cleveland on April 13. The right-hander surrendered seven runs in the first inning before settling down. Hochevar's rough outing got worse in the fourth, when he was forced to leave after taking a line drive off his left ankle. After X-rays came back negative, the Royals decided to give him an extra day of rest to recover from a bruise. Hochevar is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two home starts against the Blue Jays.
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