When commissioner Bud Selig introduced interleague play for the 1997 season, this was most likely not a matchup he envisioned.
The Royals (19-49) had the worst road record in baseball before taking two of three at Houston over the weekend, pushing their record to 9-30 away from Kansas City.
That leaves Pittsburgh (26-45), which has lost five straight, with the worst road record in baseball (8-25) as it begins a six-game trip.
The Pirates lost the finale of a three-game set with St. Louis on Thursday, then were swept in three games by Minnesota before losing 5-4 in 11 innings to Arizona in a makeup game on Monday.
Pittsburgh had the bases loaded with none out in the ninth inning, but failed to get the winning run home.
“That game’s in our hands,” Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson said. “It’s frustrating. You figure some kind of bounce is going to go your way.”
Pittsburgh fell to 7-21 in one-run games.
“It seems like every time we lose, it’s a one-run game,” Pirates infielder Jose Bautista said.
Kansas City has won three of five, a fairly good stretch considering the team had lost 25 of 31.
Although the Royals have played poorly on the road, their home record hasn’t been much better. Kansas City has lost 10 of 12 at Kauffman Stadium.
The Pirates hope Kip Wells making his season debut can help snap their losing streak.
Wells has been on the disabled list the entire season following surgery to repair a blocked artery in his right shoulder. He wasn’t expected back until the All-Star break and was supposed to make another rehabilitation start this week, but with right-hander Victor Santos going on the DL, the Pirates decided to give Wells the nod.
The right-hander led the majors with 18 losses last season.
“If I’m not any better than I was last year, I don’t have any business being in the big leagues,” said Wells, who is 3-1 with a 7.52 ERA in five games against Kansas City. “I pitched well at times, but it’s a matter of being consistent. But it’s over, and it’s not something I’m haunted by—it was a struggle, but it wasn’t anything different from what half the guys on our pitching staff went through last year.”
Despite the Pirates’ poor road record, they’ve actually won three straight away from Pittsburgh and should be encouraged by the Royals’ play over the weekend.
By taking two of three from Houston, Kansas City earned its fifth series win in 23 this season and finished 3-4 on its road trip.
“This should give us some momentum,” said catcher John Buck, “and any momentum we can get, we’ve got to take it and run with it.”
Mark Redman (3-4, 5.68) will be looking for his fourth straight victory when he faces his former team on Tuesday. The veteran left-hander went 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA for Pittsburgh in 2005 before being traded to Kansas City in the offseason.
Redman began the year 0-4 in his first seven starts, but has since turned his season around. He beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 on Wednesday, allowing four hits and three runs in eight innings.
Redman hasn’t won four straight decisions since 2003, when he finished 14-9 for the Florida Marlins.
Kansas City is 9-8 all-time against Pittsburgh. This is the teams’ first meeting since 2001.