The Kansas City Royals’ current string of victories hasn’t come against impressive competition, and Friday night’s series opener against the New York Mets wouldn’t appear to be much more difficult.
They likely won’t care if it means the team’s longest winning streak in 19 years.
Kansas City aims for its 10th straight victory as it plays in Citi Field for the first time.
The Royals (54-51) claimed a 7-2 victory at Minnesota on Thursday, marking their ninth win in a row for the first time since starting 9-0 in 2003. They were again led by strong pitching, with James Shields allowing two runs in six innings and Luke Hochevar and Louis Coleman combining for three scoreless.
The last six wins have come against the Chicago White Sox and Twins, who are a combined 41 games under .500. The first three were against Baltimore, which was 12-13 in July.
However, Kansas City has received a quality start in all nine wins while the bullpen has allowed three runs in 24 2-3 innings.
The Royals haven’t won 10 straight since a 14-game streak July 23-Aug. 5, 1994.
“We’re playing some really good baseball and we believe in ourselves right now,” Shields said. “Going into this last two months, this is the kind of baseball we need to play.”
Scheduled starter Wade Davis (5-9, 5.50 ERA) will look to keep the Royals’ run going as he comes off one of his best performances of the season. The right-hander allowed four singles over 7 1-3 innings to outpitch Chris Sale in a 1-0 win at Chicago on Saturday.
Davis had lost each of his past four starts while posting a 10.91 ERA.
“I got ahead of a lot more guys tonight,” said Davis, who threw a scoreless inning of relief with Tampa Bay in his only appearance against New York on June 13, 2012. “I got some early swings to help me get deeper in the ballgame, too.”
Dillon Gee (7-8, 4.13) hadn’t lost in six straight starts while registering a 3.05 ERA before allowing four runs - all on three homers - over seven innings of a 4-1 loss at Washington on Saturday. He hadn’t surrendered a homer in his previous five starts, spanning 33 1-3 innings.
“The balls they hit out, they were mistakes, they weren’t good pitches,” Gee said.
New York (48-58) was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 in a 3-0 loss at Miami on Thursday, the first time the club had been shut out since May 25 against Atlanta.
The Mets have scored 15 runs in the past seven games.
“There’s no secret,” manager Terry Collins said. “If we knew what it was, we’d fix it. Guys aren’t driving in runs. There’s nothing wrong with the approach. We’re not getting good swings at the pitches we can hit and we’re fouling them off. Therefore we’re not driving them in.”
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon tripled for the third time in seven games Thursday and is hitting .383 in 11 interleague contests this year.
Kansas City can earn its seventh straight road victory for the first time since an eight-game streak Sept. 13-27, 2008.
These teams have split six all-time matchups and will be meeting for the first time since 2004.