It is May 8th and the Kansas City Royals have not yet lost three games in a row. Since the turn of the century, this is only the second time Kansas City has made it out of the month of April without losing at least three straight. The other time (everyone together, one last time: 18-11!) was in 2009. Then, the Royals lost their third straight on May 10th, their 32nd game of the year, on their way to losing six in a row and heading down the road to awfulness.
Even in 2003, the Royals lost three straight in April, with loss number three coming on April 30th. Other than that, this organization has never been close and, in fact, generally has a hideously long losing streak in the books before reaching May.
Tonight, Kansas City finds itself having lost one run games started by their top two starters and, due to a schedule rife with off-days and rainouts, find themselves looking to number five starter Luis Mendoza to stop the losing.
Frankly, Mendoza has not been very good thus far. He has walked 10 batters in 18 innings of work, allowing 3 home runs along the way. Now, all three homers came in his last start, which followed a 20 day span during which Luis pitched just 2 innings. As a sinker-type pitcher, that much rest often makes them the oft-referenced 'too strong - too fresh'.
Opposing Mendoza will be Chris Tillman, a 25 year old right-hander who has spent the last FOUR seasons splitting time between the majors and AAA. In 15 starts last year, Tillman's ERA (2.93) outperformed his FIP (4.25) thanks to a very lot .221 BABIP. To his credit, Tillman did lower his walk rate to a career low 2.51 free passes per nine innings.
The Oriole hurler will throw pretty much all the pitches: four seam, two seam, cut fastball, slider, curve and change. Over the last two years, Tillman has started throwing the cut fastball a higher percentage of the time.
So far this season, Tillman's BABIP is back to normal (.300), his walk rate is back up, but his home run allowed rate is, thus far (SSS) down. All told, Chris has a 3.63 ERA and 3.81 FIP in six starts. After not making it through the sixth inning in his first three starts of 2013, Tillman has gone six or more in his last three, including 8 innings of 3 hit ball against the Angels a week ago.
The early weather reports indicate a 50% chance of rain from six o'clock on in Baltimore, so we could be looking at yet another rain delay tonight.
Game thread will be up thirty (30) minutes prior to game time rain or shine.