Royals aim for sweep against Orioles

The Sports Xchange

September 01, 2018 at 10:09 pm.

The Kansas City Royals will try to wrap up a sweep of a second consecutive series Sunday when they go for a third straight victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium.

Kansas City (44-91) swept a short two-game series with the Detroit Tigers after taking two of three from the Cleveland Indians before that. The Royals now have won four straight and already locked up a win in three straight series for the first time in 2018.

Jorge Lopez (0-4, 4.86 ERA) starts for Kansas City against Baltimore’s David Hess (3-8, 5.08). Lopez was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers with outfielder Brett Phillips for Mike Moustakas on July 27.

Lopez will make his first career appearance against the Orioles.

Hess ended a seven-game losing streak in his last game, throwing six shutout innings against Toronto in a 7-0 victory. He has turned in three quality starts in his last three outings and has improved in a short time.

This will be the first time Hess faces Kansas City in his brief major-league career.

The Royals are coming off a 5-4 victory Saturday night. Whit Merrifield belted the winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning on an 0-2 pitch off Orioles closer Mychal Givens.

Merrifield stretched his on-base streak to 21 games, which ties his career high. It’s the second-longest current streak in the major leagues behind Houston’s Alex Bregman (29).

Kansas City also might give rookie Meibrys Viloria his first major league start at catcher. With starter Salvador Perez out (sprained thumb) and backup Cam Gallagher having played the last few games (since the trade of Drew Butera), Viloria could get the start after being called up all the way from Class A.

“They say the bigger the game, the better he plays,” Royals manager Ned Yost told the media. “That’s always a good sign.”

The Orioles also made a move Saturday. They called up infielder Breyvic Valera but are likely to bring up more players with the rosters being expanded. Baltimore acquired Valera from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade in late July.

Baltimore will have to bounce back from Saturday’s loss, in which it twice led before Kansas City kept battling back. The loss dropped Givens to 0-7 this season on a night where his command and control were once again an issue.

He walked the first batter in the ninth with the Orioles leading 4-3, and that proved costly as it set the stage for Merrifield.

Still, the Orioles have fared much better on offense in the last few weeks. They scored four runs and banged out 13 hits, but missed on several scoring chances. That’s all part of the growing process for a team with a number of young players trying to find their way.

“We just couldn’t get it done at the end,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told MASN in a postgame interview. “There’s good and bad and always something to build on.”