The Kansas City Royals may have the second-best winning percentage in the major leagues, but they’ve yet to prove themselves on the road this season.
The Royals continue their nine-game road trip when they begin a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox.
Kansas City is 10-0 at home this season, but just 7-5 away from Kauffman Stadium—including losses in four of their last five.
The latest defeat away from home came on Sunday as the Royals blew a seven-run lead over the last three innings in a 10-9 setback at Toronto. Kansas City jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the fourth inning, but allowed Toronto to score once in the seventh, twice in the eighth and six times in the ninth.
Royals closer Mike MacDougal blew his first save opportunity in 11 chances this season.
“It was a tough loss,” MacDougal said. “I don’t know what to say. It was a bad inning.”
Kansas City will look to get back on track against a Boston team that it has had success against on the road over the past several seasons. The Royals have won eight of their last 12 games at Fenway Park, and are 18-14 there since the 1996 season.
Boston led 4-2 after seven innings of work from Pedro Martinez, but the bullpen allowed the Angels to tie the game with a run in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Boston’s relievers have a combined ERA of 5.81 ERA, and they also blew a 4-1 lead for Martinez on opening day.
“It takes everybody. And on a couple of occasions, we haven’t picked up the slack for him at the end of those games,” Boston manager Grady Little said. “But that situation will improve—I guarantee you.”
The Red Sox return home, who went 3-3 on their six-game road trip, are 7-2 at Fenway Park this season.
STANDINGS: Royals - 1st place, AL Central. Red Sox - 2nd place, 4 GB, AL East.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Chris George (3-1, 4.76 ERA). The left-hander rebounded from his worst start of the season by allowing one run and five hits over six innings in beating the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Thursday. George had given up eight runs and seven hits over 4 2-3 innings in an 8-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox in his previous outing.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Tim Wakefield (2-1, 4.62 ERA). The right-hander lost his first game of the season in his last start, allowing four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. Wakefield is 8-4 with one save and a 3.32 ERA lifetime against the Royals.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Brent Mayne, .345 avg; Joe Randa and Mike Sweeney, 5 HRs; Sweeney, 19 RBIs; Michael Tucker, 15 runs; Tucker and Desi Relaford, 3 SBs. Red Sox - Manny Ramirez, .340 avg; Kevin Millar and Nomar Garciaparra, 5 HRs; Shea Hillenbrand, 25 RBIs; Garciaparra, 20 runs; Johnny Damon, 5 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Red Sox, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - Kansas City concludes its trip this weekend with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. … 3B Randa is batting .308 (8-for-26) with three homers and 10 RBIs during his seven-game hitting streak. … In his only career appearance against the Red Sox, LHP George allowed two runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 4-0 loss on April 19, 2002. Red Sox - 3B Hillenbrand is tied with Yankees 2B Alfonso Soriano and Blue Jays 1B Carlos Delgado for the AL lead in RBIs with 25. … LF Ramirez is batting .340 with 30 HRs and 92 RBIs in 82 career games against Kansas City. … SS Garciaparra has two hits in his last 25 at-bats.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 7-5 on the road; Red Sox - 7-2 at home.