The offense the Baltimore Orioles have been missing most of this season appears to have arrived.
Baltimore looks to match a season high with its fourth straight win Tuesday night as it continues a three-game series against the struggling Kansas City Royals.
On Monday, Ramon Hernandez capped a five-run fourth inning with his fifth career grand slam and Steve Trachsel recorded his first nine-inning complete game in more than three years, leading the Orioles to a 9-1 win in the series opener.
“I was trying to get a good pitch to hit and a good count to hit and I got it,” Hernandez said. “I was trying to hit the ball hard and get at least one in. Luckily, it went out of the park.”
Jay Payton added two hits and two RBIs for Baltimore (24-27), which has 25 runs and 34 hits, including five homers, during its three-game winning streak.
The Orioles, who averaged 3.1 runs in nine games before the current run, have won four in a row on three separate occasions this season.
Leading the surge for Baltimore has been shortstop Miguel Tejada, who is 9-for-19 with three home runs and nine RBIs in his last five games.
Speedy Brian Roberts is also swinging a hot bat. The AL leader with 19 stolen bases is 17-for-39 (.436) with eight runs scored and six steals in his last 10 contests.
Baltimore has won six straight against the Royals (19-33), and is 13-3 in the series since the start of the 2005 season.
Jeremy Guthrie (2-1, 3.09 ERA) looks to continue his run of strong outings for the Orioles. The right-hander has been a very pleasant surprise this season, allowing three runs or fewer in each of his five starts while pitching at least six innings in four straight appearances.
Despite his effective pitching, Guthrie has no wins in his last three starts because the bullpen has failed to protect leads in two of them. He allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings Thursday against Toronto before Baltimore fell 5-4 in 10 innings.
Guthrie has no record and a 7.71 ERA in four career games, including one start, against the Royals.
Kansas City has been outscored 45-11 during a five-game losing streak, one shy of its season high. The skid comes after the Royals appeared to be turning the corner with six wins in seven games.
“We helped him (Trachsel) early on, swinging at the first pitch,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys who are - I hate to say this - trying to do too much. I have a hard time believing that you can do too much, but we’ve got guys who are just trying to put all of us on their shoulders. And it doesn’t work that way.”
Jorge De La Rosa (4-4, 4.65) hopes to rebound from his worst start of the season for Kansas City. The left-hander struggled with his control Thursday in a 10-3 loss to Cleveland, walking a career-high seven - one intentional - and hitting a batter in 4 1-3 innings. He gave up nine runs and six hits as his ERA jumped more than a full run.
De La Rosa had surrendered only three runs in his previous two starts, spanning 13 1-3 innings. He has never faced the Orioles.