Baltimore rookie Eric DuBose will make his first major league start when the Orioles and Royals conclude a three-game set at Camden Yards.
The Royals were baseball’s biggest surprise in April, winning 16 of their first 20 games. They have, however, cooled off with losses in five of their last six.
Kanas City, which still leads the AL Central, takes on Boston on Monday in the opener of a seven-game homestand. The Royals are 10-0 at home, but just 8-9 on the road.
Even less was expected this season from the Orioles, who finished 2002— their fifth straight losing season—in a 4-32 freefall.
Since opening this season 2-6, Baltimore has won 14 of its last 21.
“Sidney kept focused. He didn’t let the little things distract him,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “He was on top of his game today.”
With Jason Johnson still nursing a blister on his right middle finger, DuBose was called up from Triple-A Ottawa to make his first major league start.
DuBose, a 26-year-old left-hander, was 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in five starts for Ottawa. He did not record a decision in four relief appearances for the Orioles last season.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Who are we playing?” DuBose said. “I am excited about the chance. I know it’s just one start, but it’s a big opportunity.”
A weak offense figured to be Baltimore’s biggest weakness this season, but that hasn’t been the case of late. The Orioles have scored 45 runs over the last seven games.
Conine, a former Royal, is batting .385 (10-for-26) with seven RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
STANDINGS: Royals - 1st place, AL Central. Orioles - 3rd place, 6 1/2 GB, AL East.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Chris George (3-2, 4.82 ERA). George allowed three runs and six hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 7-2 loss at Boston on Tuesday. The left-hander has received just six runs of support in his last three appearances. George is 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA lifetime against Baltimore.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Dubose (no record). Originally a first-round pick of Oakland in 1997, DuBose has also spent time in the Cleveland and Detroit organizations. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2001, and was signed by the Orioles as a minor league free agent on Jan. 25, 2002.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Raul Ibanez, .317 avg.; Mike Sweeney, 7 HRs, 23 RBIs and 16 runs; Desi Relaford and Michael Tucker, 3 SBs. Orioles - Jerry Hairston, .305 avg. and 10 SBs; Tony Batista, 5 HRs; Batista and Conine, 18 RBIs; Hairston and Batista, 18 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - LHP Jeremy Affeldt could start Tuesday against Boston if the blister on his left middle finger continues to heal. … OF Carlos Beltran missed his second straight game Saturday due to shoulder soreness. He was a late scratch Friday … The Royals have lost seven of their last eight against Baltimore. Orioles - DH David Segui was activated off the 15-day disabled list Saturday, and the Orioles placed RHP Rodrigo Lopez on the 15-day DL with a strained ribcage muscle. … Baltimore has scored first in 20 of its 29 games. … OF Melvin Mora has multiple-hit games in five of his last eight starts.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals- 8-9 on the road. Orioles - 8-7 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - LHP Affeldt (finger), 15-day DL; OF Beltran (shoulder), day-to-day. Orioles - RHP Lopez (ribcage), 15-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL.