Though the Philadelphia Phillies endured a slow start to the year, they're hoping a thrilling walkoff win will help get them going.
With Cole Hamels set to take the mound against James Shields, the Phillies look for their momentum to carry into Sunday as they conclude a three-game set against the visiting Kansas City Royals.
After dropping three of its first four games, including a 13-4 loss in Friday's home opener, Philadelphia (2-3) pulled out a come-from-behind 4-3 win Saturday. Royals closer Greg Holland walked Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Michael Young before pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen came through with a bases-clearing double with two outs in the ninth inning.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We walked (three) guys and they scored."
The Phillies, meanwhile, avoided losing their first two home games for the first time since 2009.
"It's a surreal moment, one that you hope to repeat," Frandsen said. "You don't want to start 0-2 at home, especially in front of these fans with the energy they bring."
While Philadelphia has to be feeling good about its chances of keeping things going with Hamels (0-1, 9.00) on the hill, the All-Star left-hander failed to live up to expectations in his first career opening-day start Monday. Hamels, who won a career-high 17 games last year, gave up three homers and yielded five runs in five innings of a 7-5 loss at Atlanta.
"You have to be able to establish the fastball down in the zone, and I wasn't able to do that as much as I'd like," he told MLB's official website. "Most of the pitches that were hit out were fastballs up in the zone. I want to claim that's uncharacteristic, but there are times when you have to be able to make the adjustment and I wasn't able to make the adjustment fast enough."
Hamels, 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA over 10 interleague starts since 2010, will be making his first career appearance versus Kansas City (2-3).
Acquired from Tampa Bay in a seven-player trade this offseason, Shields (0-1, 1.50) was saddled with a tough-luck loss in his Royals debut Monday. The right-hander struck out six and did not walk a batter in six innings of a 1-0 defeat to the Chicago White Sox.
"That's exactly what I expected," said Yost, who pulled Shields after throwing 102 pitches. "We get farther into the year and he'd go back out. That's how good he was throwing the ball."
Though he wasn't able to lead his team to victory, Shields made a good first impression.
"If he throws like that every day, we're going to get him a lot of wins," teammate Billy Butler said.
Shields had a 2.31 ERA in winning his first two career starts against Philadelphia - including an impressive performance in Game 2 of the 2008 World Series - before allowing five runs in as many innings during a 7-6 walkoff loss June 23.
Shields has had his way with Young, who is 1 for 19 in their matchups over the past five years. Young, a career .301 hitter, is batting .188 through five games.
Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar, Butler and Salvador Perez, the team's 1-2-3-4 hitters Saturday, went a combined 2 for 16. The Royals are last in the AL with one home run.