The Kansas City Royals have won their last two games behind outstanding complete games from their starting pitchers.
With converted reliever John Bale on the mound Tuesday, they aren’t likely to match a feat accomplished 20 years ago by having a third straight pitcher go the distance.
Kansas City (8-5) hopes Bale can win his first start in almost five years and help the club beat the Seattle Mariners in back-to-back road games for the first time since 2002.
“You feel so good playing behind our pitching staff right now you want to do everything you can for them,” said Royals first baseman Billy Butler, who had a solo homer to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 13 games, tying Darrell Porter (1978) and Danny Tartabull (1989) for second in team history behind George Brett’s 19 game-run set in 1983.
Kansas City last had three complete games in a row Aug. 12-14, 1988, against Toronto as Floyd Bannister, Bret Saberhagen and Luis Aquino produced the accomplishment.
While the Royals aren’t likely to see that feat matched Tuesday, they would settle for a sweep of their two-game set with the Mariners. They haven’t won back-to-back games at Seattle since Aug. 30-31, 2002.
Bale (0-2, 5.84 ERA) will try to help them equal that mark by winning his first start since Aug. 29, 2003, with Cincinnati.
The left-hander, who has been used as a reliever in 44 of his 55 career games over parts of five-plus seasons, is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts since that victory.
Bale struggled in his last start, allowing four runs and eight hits, including a homer, in six innings of a 6-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Thursday. He’s allowing opponents to hit .367 through two games, but the Royals have supported him with only four runs.
“John hasn’t had a lot of run support,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
The Mariners will turn to Miguel Batista (0-2, 6.00), who has been shaky at times in two starts.
The right-hander didn’t allow a hit through the first 3 1-3 innings before serving up a homer and leaving after six, allowing four runs and eight hits in Thursday’s 7-0 loss at Tampa Bay.
Batista will try to rebound from that performance in his first start against Kansas City. He’s held them to one hit in 3 1-3 innings of relief over two games, posting a 1-0 record.
If Batista struggles, the Mariners hope for better results from their bullpen. Their relievers have a major league-worst 6.68 ERA, blowing two of six save chances and allowing opponents to hit .302 with five homers.