The Kansas City Royals haven’t had many chances to win recently, but since the All-Star break, they’ve at least been able to rely on their highest-paid pitcher.
Meche (10-9, 4.01 ERA) hasn’t always been consistent since signing a five-year, $55 million contract with Kansas City before the 2007 season, but he has been outstanding in this season’s second half, going 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA in seven starts. He has allowed just 29 hits in 45 2-3 innings over that span, with Kansas City winning six of those outings.
The only one the Royals (56-74) didn’t win was the last one. Meche allowed two hits - both home runs - in seven innings, striking out nine, but Kansas City’s bullpen squandered a 5-3 lead in an 8-5 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday.
“I felt fine,” Meche said. “I felt good. It’s a game we should have won.”
The Royals only have 13 wins since the break, as they’ve compiled 21 losses during that stretch. They ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Detroit 7-3 on Sunday.
“It seemed like months since we’d had a four-run lead,” Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said.
Jose Guillen homered for the first time in 18 games and Mark Teahen drove in three runs as the club’s struggling offense broke out. They had averaged fewer than three runs in the previous 16 games, winning just twice over that span.
Kansas City ranks last in the AL with 91 home runs and last in the majors with 324 walks.
The Rangers (63-68) haven’t had those problems, but they’ve still lost 14 of their last 17 games. After Sunday’s 4-3 loss to Cleveland, they finished a nine-game homestand at 2-7 and got swept at home for the first time since April. They’ve also lost six of their last seven on the road.
“When you look at all the injuries and adversity we’ve had to put up with, it might have caught up with us,” manager Ron Washington said.
Their league-worst ERA has risen even higher over the past few weeks. Texas’ staff has a 6.45 ERA in its last 17 contests, walking 67 and allowing 189 hits in 148 innings over that span.
Scott Feldman (4-5, 5.15) will pitch Monday, looking to turn around his own recent difficult stretch. The Rangers have lost each of his last five starts, as he’s 0-2 with a 6.33 ERA over that span, having allowed seven home runs and 13 walks in 27 innings. In his last road start, he allowed 10 runs in the first inning at Boston on Aug. 12.
The right-hander has never made a start against the Royals. In seven relief appearances versus Kansas City, he has given up six earned runs in 14 innings.
Meche, a longtime AL West rival of the Rangers while pitching for Seattle, has struggled against Texas, going 4-8 with a 6.34 ERA against them in 14 career starts. He pitched well versus them on June 10, however, allowing one run and four hits in six innings of his team’s 6-5 loss.
The Rangers have won four of six against Kansas City this season, including two of three at Kauffman Stadium from June 10-12.