Royals Enter Series With Red Sox on Roll, But Playoffs May Not Be in Picture for Kansas City


Alcides EscobarThe longest playoff drought in baseball belongs to the Kansas City Royals. They haven’t played postseason baseball since winning the 1985 World Series behind future Hall of Famer George Brett and a young pitcher named Bret Saberhagen. The franchise hasn’t had a winning record since 2003.

That latter streak may end this year, as Kansas City had won 14 of 18 entering Wednesday’s series finale against Minnesota to climb four games above .500. The problem is that Kansas City can’t gain any ground in the American League Central because the Tigers and Indians have been equally as hot, and the Royals are five games out of the second Wild Card spot.

Thus, it will take some serious work to reach the playoffs. Right now, KC is given an 11.1 percent chance of making it compared to the Red Sox’ 94.7 percent. The Royals are 33-1 long shots by Bovada oddsmakers to win the AL pennant.

Boston starts a four-game series in Kansas City on Thursday night, and the Royals project as slight -120 series favorites — first three games only. The Red Sox lost two of three at Fenway Park to Kansas City from April 20-21.

Lorenzo Cain was a thorn in Boston’s side in that series, going 5-for-10 with four extra-base hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. Alcides Escobar was 5-for-11 with a homer, and All-Star Alex Gordon was 4-for-13 with a dinger of his own. Gordon has been in a funk, batting .164 since the break. Eric Hosmer has been the Royals’ best hitter since then at .342 with 13 RBIs.

Lefty Bruce Chen (4-0, 2.03 ERA) starts Thursday. The veteran has been great in four starts since joining the rotation. Only one of those has come at home. The Royals were -111 favorites behind Chen against the Orioles, and he got the win, allowing a run and three hits in six innings. Consider a Dustin Pedroia prop, as he is batting .455 with a homer in 11 at-bats off Chen. Jonny Gomes has two homers in 21 at-bats.

On Friday, it’s Ervin Santana (8-6, 2.97 ERA). The Royals have won his last four starts, and Santana has allowed a combined four earned runs over that stretch. Santana beat the Sox in Game 1 of that April 21 doubleheader as a +142 underdog, allowing two runs and striking out seven in seven innings. The former Angel is 4-3 with a 3.98 career ERA against Boston. Mike Napoli will be eager to see Santana, as Napoli is 6-for-18 with three homers and seven career RBIs off him. David Ortiz is hitting .333 with two homers in 27 at-bats.

Saturday, Jeremy Guthrie (12-7, 3.96 ERA) is scheduled. He has won four straight starts and threw a complete-game, four-hit shutout last time out against Minnesota. Guthrie is 8-2 with a 3.77 ERA at home in 2013. He pitched Game 2 of the April 21 twin bill and allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. Ortiz crushes Guthrie, hitting .342 with three homers and nine RBIs.

The Sox were 1-2 at Kansas City in 2012.

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