The Chicago Cubs opened their series in Kansas City like each of their previous four - with a victory.
Picking up wins after that initial one has been the problem.
The Cubs hope to string together back-to-back victories in the same series for just the second time in five weeks and send the Royals to a seventh straight defeat Saturday night.
With Friday’s 6-4 victory over Kansas City, Chicago (31-44) won its fifth straight series opener. Although the Cubs have started these series in positive fashion, they’ve gone just 2-8 in the ensuing games. Chicago won the first two games in a series against Milwaukee last week, the only time in the last 10 series it won consecutive contests.
The Cubs won the opener against the Royals despite having four runners thrown out on the basepaths and making a throwing error that set up a tying run.
The late miscues sent the Royals to a season-high tying sixth straight defeat. Kansas City (31-45) has also lost 17 of 23 at Kauffman Stadium after winning 15 of its first 22 there.
With Bruce Chen(notes) coming off the disabled list to throw six-plus innings Friday and Kyle Davies(notes) (sore right shoulder) expected to return this week, Saturday’s probable starter Danny Duffy(notes) (1-2, 5.03 ERA) will probably be heading back to Triple-A Omaha soon.
“I don’t really even think about that. It’s just day in and day out, you’ve got to do the same thing,” the rookie told the Royals’ official website. “It’s not really crossing my mind, I’m just going out and playing baseball.”
Coming off his first career win in Oakland on June 14, Duffy gave up two runs and six hits in Sunday’s 5-4 loss to St. Louis. The 22-year-old left-hander struck out a career-best nine of the 18 batters he faced, but had to leave after 3 2-3 innings because of leg cramps.
The Cubs counter with Carlos Zambrano(notes) (6-4, 4.50), who allowed three runs - all in the first inning - and seven hits in eight innings of Monday’s 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. After the shaky opening frame, Zambrano limited the White Sox to four hits the rest of the way and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
“Everybody makes a mistake, some make big mistakes,” said Zambrano, who had yielded 12 runs over 12 1-3 innings while losing his previous two starts. “The most important thing is to relax after you make a mistake.”
This will be Zambrano’s first career start against the Royals.
Kansas City right fielder Jeff Francoeur(notes), who spent most of his first six major league seasons in the NL, is batting .200 with two homers and 13 strikeouts in 25 career at-bats against Zambrano.