HEADLINE

Having won three straight, Royals host twin bill vs. Blue Jays

Field Level Media

April 17, 2021 at 6:52 am.

Following day-long rain in the Kansas City area Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Royals will play a split doubleheader Saturday. The first game will be at the original time for the first pitch, 1 p.m. Central time. The second game will start at 5:10 p.m.

The Blue Jays will send Friday’s scheduled starter, lefty Steven Matz, to the mound for the first game. They will send left-hander Tommy Milone to the hill for the nightcap.

Matz, who was traded to the Blue Jays last offseason, will be facing another lefty in Kansas City’s Mike Minor. Kansas City will rely on Ervin Santana, who last pitched in the major leagues in 2019, in the second game. Santana was part of the Royals rotation in 2013.

Santana was 9-10 in 2013, the Royals’ first winning season in a decade. He didn’t have a winning record, but his 3.24 ERA was the best of his 15-year career. He also had 32 starts, one off his career best.

In 20 career starts against the Blue Jays, Santana is 6-7 with a 3.89 ERA.

Matz carries a 2-0 record with a 1.46 ERA in his brief career with the Blue Jays after six seasons with the Mets. He’s struck out 13 in 12 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs on seven hits in defeating the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels.

“Making important pitches in important times when maybe your stuff isn’t as sharp, that’s part of the process,” Matz said after tossing six innings of five-hit, one-run ball against the Angels. Matz had to deal with a rain delay and then an offense that gave him a 10-run lead, but he didn’t alter his approach.

“I think that’s where you can get in trouble, when you steer away from your game plan,” Matz said. “My main focus was to just stick to the game plan, attack these hitters, (stick with) what me and (catcher Danny Jansen) had going into the game.”

Milone has had 145 starts among 185 appearances in his 11-year MLB career, but this will be his first start as a Blue Jay. He’s allowed one earned run over six innings (1.50 ERA) in two relief appearances this season.

Minor (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will be looking to extend the Royals’ three-game winning streak that has been keyed by strong starting pitching. The Royals had not been getting much from their starters before Danny Duffy allowed one run in six innings Tuesday against the Angels, followed by Brad Keller’s one run in 5 2/3 innings Wednesday. When Jakob Junis allowed two Toronto runs in five-plus innings Thursday, it gave the last three starters a combined 2.20 ERA in those starts.

It has Kansas City manager Mike Matheny looking at his rotation as a strength.

“I’m liking what our starting pitching is beginning to do,” he said. “Brad is one of those keys. We knew once he figured it out, he was going to get on a roll.”

In seven career outings — five starts — against the Blue Jays, Minor is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA. Matz will face the Royals for the first time, while Milone is 5-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 14 appearances — 12 starts against the Royals.