The Toronto Blue Jays are getting outstanding pitching to dominate the punchless Kansas City Royals. They hope Shaun Marcum can help them complete their first four-game sweep of the struggling club Monday when the teams conclude their season series.
The Blue Jays (27-25), winners of 10 of their last 13 games, last swept a series from the Royals (21-29) from May 9-11, 2005, but they have never taken every game of a four-game set in the all-time series.
Toronto has dominated this series, getting complete games from Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch to win the first two games before Dustin McGowan allowed only one run and nine hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of Sunday’s 3-1 victory. The Blue Jays have outscored Kansas City 16-2 during the series.
“We’ve managed to put everything together and we’re playing good baseball right now,” said Jays right fielder Alex Rios, who is 10-for-24 (.417) with three RBIs in six games against the Royals this season.
The Blue Jays hope Marcum (4-3, 2.80 ERA) can help them complete the sweep as he tries to re-establish his own dominance of Kansas City.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 1.05 ERA in six games—three starts— against the Royals. However, his lone loss came in his last start against them on April 26, when he allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 2-1 defeat.
Marcum has been solid in five outings since, going 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 31 innings. But now he’ll try to rebound from his only loss in that span.
Marcum gave up all four runs on a pair of homers to Vladimir Guerrero, while allowing only two more hits with seven strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 defeat to Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“I threw two good pitches, pitcher’s pitches, and he hit them out of the park,” Marcum said.
The Royals, who are 2-8 during their season-high 11-game road trip, are on a season high-tying seven-game losing streak. They haven’t dropped eight in a row since Sept. 17-26, 2006.
Kansas City has been shut out twice during its current slide and has a woeful .204 batting average while being outscored 42-14, with more than half of those runs coming in an 11-8 defeat at Boston on May 22. The team has scored 179 runs—the lowest total in the AL.
The Royals had 10 hits on Sunday, but nine were singles.
“These are tough, hard times,” Royals first-year manager Trey Hillman said. “These guys are frustrated—we’re all frustrated. I’m trying everything I know to try.”
The Royals hope Brett Tomko (2-5, 5.76) can help them halt the slide by avoiding another big inning.
The 35-year-old right-hander was strong through four innings of Wednesday’s 6-3 loss at Boston, holding the Red Sox to one run and three hits before falling apart with one out in the fifth. Tomko entered the inning with a one-run lead and recorded the first out, but then gave up four runs and four hits before being pulled.
“I felt pretty good all night,” Tomko said. “The big innings have been kind of getting me the last couple of games. It seems like when they get me it’s three, four runs.”
Tomko is 2-0 with a 6.08 ERA in six games - all relief outings - against the Jays.